That changed Saturday as the Lady Chiefs swept through their annual tournament without losing a set, capping it with a 25-7, 25-21 win over East Coweta in the gold bracket final.
According to coach John Edwards, when Sequoyah reached the semifinals last year, it was the first time it had done so in at least 10 years. The Lady Chiefs last played in the finals in 2001.
Sequoyah got into the gold bracket by sweeping past Milton, Lambert and Whitewater in pool play. The Lady Chiefs began bracket play by beating Alpharetta (25-11, 25-18), following that with wins over Roswell (25-20, 25-18) and Dunwoody (25-17, 25-16).
Edwards said each opponent provided its own challenges.
“East Coweta and Roswell both had really good outside hitters, so that was one thing,” he said. “Some of the other teams were a little scrappy. Some teams served better than others. I can’t pinpoint one match that was tougher, but the good thing was that not every team was the same.”
Sequoyah showed its skill in adjusting to its opponents’ strengths and attacking their weaknesses.
“We just worked out what we needed to do to be successful,” Edwards said.
Kayla Morris led Sequoyah with 33 digs over the two-day event, while Logan Page added 94 assists, eight blocks and 26 digs. Lane Lauletta had 20 kills, 15 digs, four aces and four blocks.
Kelley Hartman finished with 24 kills, 10 aces and 16 blocks, while twin sister Lauren had 25 kills and 13 blocks. Kali Jones added 33 kills, four aces and 32 digs.
Etowah came within a few points of making it an all-Cherokee County final for the first time, but it lost to East Coweta (21-25, 25-21, 15-23) in the semifinal.
Edwards said the team benefited from the tough match between Etowah and East Coweta.
“I think that they were worn out a little bit,” Edwards said of the East Coweta players. “They looked a little tired, but our girls were focused. They wanted to win it. They were focused the entire match and I was really happy to see that, no matter what rotation we were in or who was in, it was total team focus.”
Before the semifinals, Etowah had not lost a set. It beat Pope, Sonoraville and Mount Vernon Presbyterian in pool play, then stopped Norcross and Northgate in bracket play.
River Ridge, Woodstock and Creekview also advanced to the gold bracket by finishing in the top two of their respective pools.
River Ridge won Pool E and beat Lassiter in the first round of bracket play, but it was tripped up by East Coweta (26-24, 25-19) in the second round.
Woodstock, winner of Pool G, faced Pool H runner-up Creekview in the first round of bracket play. The Lady Wolverines won to set up a match with Dunwoody, which ended up advancing to meet Sequoyah in the semifinals.
The silver bracket, which consisted of the third- and fourth-place teams in pool play, was won by Starr’s Mill.
As good as it can feel to win a tournament, Edwards said his team certainly isn’t counting its chickens before they hatch.
“It feels awfully good to do something that we have never done, but we know it’s early,” Edwards said. “Other teams are going to continue to get better. We have to get in the gym and continue to work every day to make sure we are the best we can be any time we play somebody.”