As postseason play nears for most of the local fall sports teams, no squad has more momentum than the Augusta Prep volleyball team.
The Lady Cavaliers entered the week with a 15-2 overall record. They're undefeated in GISA Region 4-AAA play, and the region's second-place team, Trinity Christian, fell to Augusta Prep 25-1 in a game earlier this season.
The defending GISA Class AAA state champs still aren't satisfied.
"It's all about getting better," Augusta Prep volleyball coach Rich Bland said. "The state tournament looks like it's a harder path to the final four than last year. The way it looks now we would probably play the No. 2 seed from region two in the quarterfinals, and that will probably be George Walton."
George Walton is a team on the top of Augusta Prep's "to-beat" list. The Lady Cavaliers, despite an undefeated record against private schools this season, are ranked behind George Walton in the GISA state poll. That doesn't sit well with some Lady Cavaliers.
"It doesn't seem right," senior Nicole Abbott said. "I wasn't aware of that. We'll have to try to fix it soon."
The pressure is on for the Lady Cavaliers. Abbott said she and her teammates have been hearing the talk from friends, family, classmates and teachers about a possible state title repeat for most of the year.
"We'll be walking down the hall and someone will say, 'Hey, Oct. 27. It's coming,'" Abbott said. "Everybody knows about it."
Oct. 27 is the scheduled date for the GISA Class AAA volleyball state tournament. For the second consecutive year, Augusta Prep's Boardman Gymnasium will play host to the state tournament.
The Lady Cavaliers convincingly won the state title a year ago. They might be even better this year.
"This is the deepest team I've ever had in the six years I've been here," Bland said. "That's a good thing, but it's been a challenge as well. There's only six spots out there and only one ball.
"We've got to find that lineup of girls who are playing well as a team and at the same time."
Last Saturday, Augusta Prep knocked off Alleluia on homecoming weekend in a 25-20, 25-19, 25-18 sweep. It was the ninth straight victory for the Lady Cavaliers - a streak that included a tournament championship at the 10th annual Augusta Prep Invitational.
After a decade of losing its own tournament each year, the Lady Cavaliers won the title against a field that included public school powerhouse North Augusta High School, South Carolina private school titan Pinewood Prep and all four of last year's GISA state semifinals teams.
"We try to get the best teams we can get," Bland said. "We don't want a tournament we can win easily, and it's nice to scout some of the Atlanta schools and the top-tier GISA teams."
Augusta Prep has already clinched the Region 4-AAA championship and will enter state as a No. 1 seed.
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