Lynn Dearing has coached the Goodpasture volleyball team for 15 years, and today marks her fifth appearance in the state volleyball tournament.
But the Lady Cougars are still looking for their first title after finishing second in 2003 and 2011.
Six-time state champion Page has bounced Goodpasture out of the state tournament two years in a row, including a five-set match in last year’s championship. The Lady Cougars plan to come into the Class AA tournament with a chip on their shoulders.
“Page is a big rival. If we met them, it would be a good match,” said Goodpasture senior and Trevecca commitment Katelyn Atkinson.
“If we meet Page again, the girls will go in confident,” Dearing said.
Page and Goodpasture are on opposite sides of the bracket and would not meet until Thursday at the earliest.
First, the Lady Cougars (41-3) will try to get past Red Bank (38-9) in today’s first round at Blackman. Goodpasture beat Red Bank twice in last year’s tournament.
“There are definitely some nerves there, because we know they’re a great team and we know they’re going to come out strong and playing hard, but I’m excited to play them,” said Goodpasture junior middle blocker Macy Reece, an Auburn commitment.
“It’s a tough first round, but my setter (Abby Honeycutt) is healthy this year and we have a strong defense behind her,” Dearing said. “I don’t want to seem overconfident. Red Bank will be tough competition.”
The team consists of only juniors and seniors, and Dearing said the experience has been extremely influential in motivating the players to win a championship.
“This group of girls is extraordinary,” Dearing said. “Not only are they talented athletically, but they truly love each other and they take care of each other on and off the floor. We’ve had goals since early August, and one of our goals has been to be the tightest team.
“We have fun, just constant laughing and constant good times with this group. They’re a special group.”
Reece is 6-foot-2 and leads the team in kills. Honeycutt is the team leader in assists, and Atkinson leads the team in digs.
“Macy is such a strong hitter, but she is also a very smart player,” Dearing said. “She sees the court well, she knows when to lay off a set, she reads other teams well and knows when she’s being double-blocked or triple-blocked. So it’s really easy to be confident when she’s on the front line.”
“(Honeycutt and Atkinson) both are so strong all the way around, and Katelyn can kill a ball like crazy,” Reece said. “My height on the front row and getting my hands on some shots definitely helps our defense, and it would be very tough on them if we didn’t have strong blockers up there.”