Three freshmen at Sequoyah High (Canton, Georgia) are playing beyond their years. Skylar Martin (libero), Taylor Pecht (setter), and Sara Siefert (outside hitter) have helped lead the Chiefs to a 21-1 record this season, their only loss being to #1 in the region Alpharetta, another top-notch Georgian team. Had it not been for injury, their fellow freshman and middle blocker Catherine Brumbleloe would complete the freshmen foursome; she will return to play this week.
Coach John Edwards sees a bright light in these young ladies. “It is definitely exciting to have quality freshmen that can step into major roles and thrive. They have not experienced any major ‘freshman moments’ yet, even in the big matches that we have had so far. Whether those moments happen or not in the future, I have been impressed at their skill level as well as their maturity level on the court. To perform at the level that they have in their roles that are not roles in which you can hide tells me a lot about them as players and people.”
With such an even-keeled mix of classes, the team has developed and maintained several core values that have helped them be successful. “We spend a big amount of time on what it takes to be a great teammate and also what it takes to be a champion. The mindset and skills to be both of those are qualities that help people be successful no matter what one does in life. We understand that great teams love, care, and accept each other (Billy Donovan) and champions become champions when they decide to do what it takes, not when or if they actually win a championship.”
Understanding what makes a team great has helped Sequoyah through some big moments and challenges this season. According to Coach Edwards, three matches have stood out the most. Those matches were against Blessed Trinity, Allatoona (twice), and Etowah.
“Each has its reasons… Blessed Trinity because they are a perennial state contender (albeit in another classification), Allatoona because they are in our region and we have not beaten them in two years, and Etowah because they are a county team that we have not beaten in 5 years.”
In their win over Blessed Trinity, Siefert tallied nine kills, and Martin scooped up ten digs. Pecht dished out 33 assists as well. Against Etowah, Pecht and Martin combined for 20 digs. Pecht also had 24 assists. In their combined matches against Allatoona, Siefert had 14 kills. Pecht and Martin picked up 36 digs.
“Going into the season with more than half of the team as first-year varsity players, I knew that mentality would be something that could be a ‘sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not’ type of thing, at least early on. That ability is definitely something that we have to continue to work on, but it has been a pleasant surprise thus far.”
In regards to this season’s goals, Coach Edwards isn’t focused on tangible results. “Our main goal for the program is that we can say we outworked the other team after any match, regardless of the score.”
The Chiefs will have the opportunity to outwork the #18 team in the South Region on September 17th as they take on Harrison.