Ted Deppe’s best choice for outside hitter quickly became the best roster move in East Hall volleyball history.
Three seasons after joining Deppe’s Vikings in her sophomore year, senior Allyson Segars broke three school records en route to leading East Hall (44-15, 6-2 Area 7-AAA) to its first region title in program history.
Segars, The Times’ 2014 Player of the Year, saved her best performance for her final year in black and gold after adapting to outside hitter from her original spot as middle hitter.
Deppe, the East Hall coach, said he couldn’t afford not to have the 5-foot-10 Segars guarding the sidelines.
“Allyson was a big part of our success,” said Deppe of his offseason move. “We talked together at the end of last season and I told her that I needed her to step up, and so we made that move.”
Segars had just finished her second successful year at middle hitter while helping the Lady Vikings to their second straight winning season. But with the graduation of two esteemed outside hitters, Kara Hix and Tarryn Long, Deppe knew he needed length, athleticism and experience to win matches.
Up stepped Segars, who turned to her trusted friend Long for guidance. The biggest learning curve Segars faced was timing her returns, which were coming at her with much more of an angle.
“She was the first one I looked to,” said Segars, who played for the same club organization as Long, North Georgia Heat volleyball. “Throughout the season, I had worked on outside every now and then, but throughout the summer, I was hitting outside a lot more.”
After a few practices, Deppe said Segars was hooked. The senior quickly shot up through the statistic leaderboards of Georgia’s Class AAA while helping the Lady Vikings to nine wins in their first 10 matches.
Leading with her ever-sunny personality, Segars’ teammates said the senior could motivate the team in any situation, win or lose. Senior Emily Roberts said Segars rallied a team that had been hit by an injury bug to compete, no matter the score.
“We had some rough times where we’d lose a game pretty hard,” said Roberts, who broke school records for highest kill percentage (.397) and season blocks (60 1/2). “But I just remember us being the family that picked each other up to get to where we had (gone).”
By then, Segars continued to rack up career numbers, including school records in aces in a single season (180), career aces (203) and points scored on serve (378). The senior finished 2014 on top of the Class AAA rankings in single-season aces and fourth for kills (287).
Her efforts helped lead East Hall to an emphatic straight-sets area title win over Fannin County to earn the school’s first-ever home playoff match.
“We were all hoping to push ourselves throughout the season,” said Segars, who was voted Area 7-AAA Player of the Year. “We had big shoes to fill and had our goals. That was our goal from the beginning, to win the region championship.”
A five-set comeback to top Ringgold and a rout of Kendrick put East Hall, a team that had reached the state playoffs just once before, in the Elite Eight.
Lofty achievements for Segars, who Deppe had to convince to join the team as a sophomore. After her first year, the former basketball player decided to switch to volleyball and hasn’t looked back since.
Segars, an all-state team selection, is hoping to attend Brenau University to study occupational therapy, with hopes of continuing her volleyball career with the Golden Tigers.
“East Hall volleyball doesn’t really have the reputation of successful volleyball and I’m so proud of Allyson,” said Long, who became the first Lady Viking to sign on a volleyball scholarship and plays for Truett-McConnell College. “She’s had so much success now and she stepped up and played tremendously.”
Segars put her mark on East Hall volleyball with a senior season to remember. That’s a feeling she won’t soon forget.
“We don’t lose easy,” she said. “It’s been a big change for our program.”