The Titans, last year’s Class AAA runner-up, are now ready to make yet another serious run at a state championship as they enter the 2014 season with most of their players returning.
“We graduated three last year,” Blessed Trinity coach Paul Stevens said. “The newcomers we have this year are very strong and they’ll be able to contribute right away. So far, the team’s been practicing very hard and seems to have good chemistry and we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do on the court.”
It has been an impressive run the last 10 years for Blessed Trinity, which has won three state championships — 2006, 2010, 2012 — and have placed runner up three times — 2004, 2005, 2013.
The Titans have made it to at least the semifinals seven out of the previous 10 years and at least the quarterfinals nine out of the last 10 years.
“It’s hard work,” Stevens said. “Our coaching staff works hard in preparation for games and our players do as well. They put in the hours they need at practice and in the offseason in terms of conditioning and keeping themselves in volleyball shape. But, perhaps even more than that, is we work very hard off the court, too. The players really get to know each other and we put a lot of stock in team bonding and the importance of that – getting that unified team off the court.”
Last year, Blessed Trinity went 57-9 and advanced to the AAA finals, where it lost to St. Pius X.
The Titans got their 2014 regular season off to a good start with a couple of wins over north Fulton rivals last Thursday – defeating AAAAAA semifinalist Johns Creek 25-17, 22-25, 25-19 and AAAAA team Cambridge 25-22, 25-15. Blessed Trinity enters the new campaign with a team that is strong in all areas of the game.
“We have the most solid defensive team I’ve ever had,” Stevens said. “Our setting is absolutely superb and we have some exciting hitters who have come on board, too.”
Senior libero and Wisconsin commitment Amber McDonald will be among the key players for a Titan squad that also includes senior setter and Florida Gulf Coast commitment Maggie Rick, senior defensive specialists Kate Bona and Ali Mader, junior outside hitter Emma Simonsen, junior middle hitters Sarah Parker, Remy Smith and Annie Dempsey, sophomore middle hitter Morgan Stalcup and freshman outside hitter Alyssa Kuroski. Blessed Trinity will not have to deal with St. Pius – which they faced in the AAA finals the last two years and have now moved up to AAAA this season.
However, Blessed Trinity will now have to contend with Westminster, which moves up to AAA after finishing runner up in AA last year and will be the Titans chief rival for both the AAA and Area 4AAA titles.Westminster is a long-time rival of Blessed Trinity’s, with the two teams having faced each other several times in the state tournament -- including the AAA finals three years in a row — 2004, 2005, 2006.
“We have a great rivalry with Westminster and it’s really a healthy rivalry and this is the same in all sports,” Stevens said. “When the teams take the field or the court, obviously both teams play hard and they want to win and give everything they have. But, it is a very healthy rivalry in terms of that you don’t see trash talking or other nonsense. We’re excited to be with Westminster in the same region. It’s going to be a tough battle for sure and we’re certainly not going to take it for granted.”