Clyde Wylie could sense some doubt when he was pumping up his squad.
Early in the season, Lakeview Academy’s volleyball coach reinforced regularly to his players that they could compete with the best Class A/AA private schools in the state.
Now that the Lady Lions have a 40-win season in the books, everyone is a believer.
“I don’t think they knew just how good they were,” Wylie said. “They did not know they could compete with the best, but now they know.”
Today, Lakeview Academy (41-10) is one of three local schools opening the postseason at home, against Pinecrest Academy in the consolidated bracket for the two smallest private school classifications in the state. Area 7-3A champion North Hall and Class 5A Buford also have a first-round match at home.
As Area champions, Lakeview Academy and North Hall will host both games in their four-team bracket in the first round. Second-round matches will take place Tuesday at the highest-seeded school.
One of Lakeview Academy’s most impressive numbers this season was a 10-0 mark against other Hall County schools, including a 4-0 day to claim the Hall County championship on Sept. 29.
Also in 2018, Wylie made a point of crafting a challenging schedule with larger schools, such as Mill Creek, Buford, Parkview and Forsyth Central.
The Lions’ longest winning streak was 17 matches in September. Lakeview Academy’s strength of victories was bolstered by wins against Class 7A Peachtree Ridge and Brookwood, and a scrappy Class 6A Lanier.
“When I talked about the state tournament this season, I noticed a little skepticism on their part,” Wylie said. “I told them we had the potential. I told them if we grew a little bit every day, we can get better.”
Now that the regular season is finished, Lakeview Academy needs five wins to claim the first state championship for volleyball in school history.
Lakeview Academy’s coach feels like talent in all spots on the court is one of his programs advantages.
For the Lions, Anna Wylie was picked as Area 8-A/AA Player of the Year, while Sadie Thrailkill was named Area tournament MVP.
Players felt accountable for not only playing well in matches, but also practicing at an optimal level.
“No, I did not think going into the season we could have that potential, but coach Wylie has just pushed us in practice to our highest potential,” Thrailkill said.
And for the Lady Lions’ coach, that on-court chemisty carried over into the matches.
Wylie hopes his program can feed off that momentum built during the regular season.
“We have people’s attention and have people who know who Lakeview Academy is now,” Wylie said. “Coaches come up to me, other players come up to me and talk about what a strong bunch we are. What is really cool, from my standpoint, is they praise how disciplined we are and how well we work together. We have established ourselves as a team that is worth watching and a team worth modeling after with how we play and conduct ourselves.”
After a strong regular season, anything short of a prolonged playoff run would be considered a disappointment.
“I think we have the capability to go very far,” Anna Wylie said. “From Day 1, we came here to work hard. We really don’t have any weekends off. We are always practicing. There is never a day we are not thinking about volleyball or doing anything related to volleyball.
“We are just all about volleyball all the time, and I do not think the other teams are like that.”