MCDONOUGH — The Eagle’s Landing High School volleyball team is looking to maintain their upward trend during the 2017 season.
Eagle’s Landing finished with an 0-13 record in 2013, which at the time marked a sixth season in a row with less than 10 wins. Enter head coach Joel Kellogg in 2014 and the Lady Eagles have been improving ever since. Under Kellogg, the Lady Eagles have gone 81-44 with last season’s win total surpassing the 30-win mark with 31 wins.
Expectations around the program are higher for this season than ever before, which Kellogg said he believes is a sign his program is maturing.
“I expect us to win more games this season then we did last year,” Kellogg said. “I also expect us to finish higher in our region to set us up with a better seed in the state playoffs.”
Coming off an impressive season, Eagle’s Landing will be without three notable players — Victoria Jenifer, Aliyah Medina and Toneen Brown, who all graduated last spring. But with eight returning varsity players, Kellogg said he doesn’t expect to see his program take a step back.
“Losing D-I talent and our senior leadership from last season has been tough, but our girls have really been working on coming together more to play like a team,” Kellogg said. “Knowing we had some big shoes to fill in the outside hitter position, our girls have really stepped up on their work in that area. They have also strengthened up the areas that were lacking last year.”
Although the Lady Eagles made it to the playoffs last season, they were unceremoniously bumped from contention in the first round, ending their season rather abruptly. However, Kellogg said his team hasn’t shown that the loss haunts them.
“We have simply taken on the mindset that every practice is a chance to get better at the things we need to work on,” Kellogg said. “They have every intention of making it into those playoffs again and going further than our previous teams.”
Kellogg and the Lady Eagles know how competitive Area 4-AAAAA is for volleyball, but aren’t shying away from playing against some of the better teams in the metro area.
“Our history with Locust Grove always makes for a hyped game. Our girls usually get really excited about that match-up, but we have always looked forward to Ola and Union Grove as well,” Kellogg said. “These are the toughest teams in our region and we work hard every day to try to give them a run for their money. On a side note, Dutchtown is another team that has really been a focus for us since they beat us in the region tournament last season.
“We know that we do not have the luxury of taking any teams lightly and we do not plan to do so,” Kellogg continued. “The teams who were at the top last year will be the ones we are gunning for and plan our practices around trying to beat.”