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Westminster maintains place among volleyball elite
by Greg Oshust
October 08, 2013 04:23 PM | 2544 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Special / Clyde Click<br>
Westminster's Elizabeth Harvey goes for a shot during the Wildcats' match with Woodward Sept. 26.
Special / Clyde Click
Westminster's Elizabeth Harvey goes for a shot during the Wildcats' match with Woodward Sept. 26.
Westminster fell just short of a state volleyball championship a year ago, falling to archrival Lovett in a classic five-set Class AA title match.

That was last year for the Wildcats as they have since moved on to reestablish themselves atop the state hierarchy in the 2013 season.

With a 19-9 overall record and perfect 5-0 mark in Area 4AA as of Tuesday, Westminster is on track to make another strong run at a state title as the top-ranked team in the Georgia AA poll.

Up to this point, however, focusing on the fundamentals has been the top priority for coach Jona Braden and her team.

“We’re making strides and growing,” Braden said. “We’re working on our abilities to manage that competitive tension that is so evident in our game — the momentum shifts, how to hold on to the momentum shifts, focus on scoring one point at a time. It’s what we focus on and we do from the perspective of generating points [by] playing relentless defense, making it very difficult for the opponent to score on us and then work on minimizing unforced errors to make it very difficult for the opponent to score. That’s where our focus has been.”

Westminster’s state title hopes were thwarted in 2012 in its loss to Lovett, but Braden said her team has moved on from that.

“That was last year and this is this year,” she said. “I think all athletes can reflect on what did or didn’t happen. But this is a new group of athletes. We look at any experience and say, ‘How can we grow from this?’ To say it motivates us, I think I would say it’s part of what we were in our past. But now, it’s a matter of looking forward and looking into the future. Every group is different and we haven’t even talked about it as a collective unit guided by me as their coach. We talked about what we want to be at the end of the journey and being the very best team we can be.”

Braden certainly isn’t sitting pat with a number of adjustments to the lineup — which she said is an example of the Wildcats’ continual evolution on the court.

“We have different players in different positions,” Braden said. “We’re expanding and we’re growing. We’re a different kind of team, a different style of team. At the same time, we’re similar. We play hard on defense, work relentlessly on creating a unit that is able to trust and believe in one another and play to the best of our ability.”

Junior setter/right side hitter and Davidson commitment Mason Rooney is among the key players on a deep and talented Westminster squad that include senior setter Ellie Hartman, junior outside hitters Mackenzie Shannon and Kerrie Green, sophomore libero Caroline Welsh, senior outside hitter Ellie Hogan, senior defensive specialist Caroline Beadles and sophomore middle hitters Elizabeth Harvey and Hannah Morgan.

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