After posting 10 consecutive wins and going undefeated in 1A District 4 play, the South Walton Seahawk girl’s volleyball team has captured the district title and a chance to advance to the state tournament.
At 7 p.m., Nov. 5, the Seahawks, 14-7, will take the first step toward state when they square off against county-foe Freeport in the 1A Regional Semifinals at South Walton High.
"We really want to go to state," said team captain Katie Logan, who has played volleyball for the Seahawks four years. "I think we have a good chance if we stick together and do the fundaments. I think we'll be able to go."
And fundamentals are the name of the game for the Seahawks.
"Basically the more time we have with them, the better we are going to be," said Michael Emerick, one of three coaches who are working with the team. The other two coaches are Andrew Hock and Michael Nonnenmann.
Emerick and Hock came in late last year and had only three months to work with the team. Still they coached the Seahawks to an undefeated round in district play.
"We've had more time since then," Emerick said. "They have more understanding of our culture and our offense, defense and fundamentals … that's what has gotten us further this year."
In addition to this back-to-basics approach, Hock says their passing and service receiving is top of the line.
"We control the play, even on free balls we control the offense," Hock said when it comes to receiving serves. "We control the ball better than any school we've competed with — at least on a 1A scale.
"We have a couple of seniors that do that, and that's where I believe we control the game, that's how we've won the last 10 matches."
Two of the four seniors who are captains on the team are Sarah McManus and Logan.
"They were voted on by the team," said Nonnenmann. "As coaches we feel it is good for the team to elect their own leaders — who they feel represent the best leadership and who is the most outspoken and sets the best example.
"That's not to say that the other two seniors are not leaders," Nonnenmann said.
As a matter of fact, Nonnenmann said that Casey Perot is "both physically and emotionally a leader on the court and a huge contributor to how far we have gotten this year and a contributor to how far the remainder of the season will go." And outside hitter Hannah Crawford is also a big contributor.
And state is the goal for the Seahawks.
"If they play the way they know how to play … they'll win state," Emerick said.
"It's absolutely the goal and the focus," Nonnenmann said.
McManus said "chemistry" and "passing" are two of the big strengths of the team.
"We've improved a lot since our first game," said McManus who has also played four years for the Seahawks. "We have really good coaches, and that is awesome. Everybody works really hard."
Nevertheless, "Our goal right now is to beat Freeport, that's our focus. We'd like to go to state, but one game at a time."