ROSWELL, Ga. — Since the GHSA recognized volleyball as a state championship sport in 1993, multiple schools have created dynasties. Walton has won 11 state titles, including six of the last seven. Westminster has captured eight, Woodward Academy has nine and Wesleyan six.
And after its sixth state title in 2016, its third straight, Blessed Trinity can include itself in that list of dynasties.
Though graduations, transfers and team chemistry means every year is different, BT is returning all but two starters from last year’s dominate roster that went 55-6. It’s hard to argue that BT won’t be in the running for a 4-peat in 2017.
The Lady Titans are set to return 10 players, including a seven-member senior class that has never not won a state title at the high school level.
“We feel like we have all the pieces we need,” said BT head coach Paul Stevens, who is seventh all-time in wins in the state. “I expect we will be in the hunt for a state title.”
The Lady Titans will have to replace two impact players lost to graduation — Morgan Stalcup, third all-time in the state in blocks and Kristen Glowacki, who Stevens said was the spirit of the 2016 team.
However, BT’s talent runs deep.
Setter Brenna Mako, leader in the state in assists last season, returns with Mackenzie Todd, who has made “a lot of progress” in the offseason, Stevens said.
At libero, Wisconsin-commit Anna MacDonald is back for her senior campaign. She led BT in digs, serve receptions and serves with a 93.5 percent serve percentage.
“You don’t get more solid than MacDonald,” Stevens said.
Joining MacDonald in the back row is Marissa Hall and Vanessa Aehl, stalwarts on defense with strong serving abilities.
Outside hitters Alyssa Kuroski and Courtney Finkle also return.
Sophomore Faith Daniel is back after a successful freshman season and is joined by Charlotte Dempsey, who Stevens said has shown much improvement.
With so much talent on slate for the 2017 season, Stevens understands that his team will be confident, but he said there is a fine line between cocky and confident.
“Players will need to temper that confidence, and that will be a point of emphasis for our coaching staff,” he said. “We do have a lot of players who know how to find that balance, and we will be looking for that kind of leadership this season.”
With three straight titles under their belts, Stevens knows his team will be circled on everyone’s calendar.
“We are going to get everyone’s best,” he said. “We can’t afford to take a night off.”
The Lady Titans will begin their season Aug. 12 against defending Class AAAAAAA champions Harrison. When BT begins full practices this week, Stevens said the focus will be bringing the team together as a unit.
“Our first goal is to become a team on and off the court,” he said. “We put a premium on team bonding and getting the girls to become one group before we worry about the battles to face.”