Loganville Sports Stock Photo

One has to turn the calendar back a long time to find a season when Joe King was not coaching the Loganville High School volleyball program.

King is entering his 16th season with the Lady Red Devil program and has been a steady hand of leadership during that time which has seen trips to the Elite Eight (2019) and the Sweet 16 (2017, 2018 and 2019). LHS also finished as region runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and advanced to the state tournament five of the past seven seasons.

“We have really enjoyed a high level of success in recent years,” King said. “Stability is a factor but so is having talented players who are eager to compete and do well. The players are the ones on the court making things happen.”

King gave up coaching track at LHS a few years ago to concentrate solely on volleyball. He’s had the opportunity to coach his daughter, Kamra, who is set to begin a collegiate career on the court.

“We have worked to get kids in the program at an early age,” Coach King said. “We started a middle school program a few years ago and are seeing the dividends now.”

With the middle school program technically being a club sport, sixth graders are able to compete while eighth graders can see action on the junior varsity.

After qualifying for state as a No. 4 seed and facing tough odds out of the state playoff gate, LHS finished higher in the standings the last few years, giving the Lady Devils more of a realistic chance at advancing.

For 2020, LHS will compete for a region title with Apalachee, Clarke Central, Jackson County, Johnson-Gainesville, Greenbrier, Walnut Grove and Eastside. King said most of the teams could win the region and certainly finish in the top four.

The team will be rebuilding somewhat in 2020, especially early in the season. Five seniors were lost to graduation and three of them were All-Region performers.

“If we have success this season it will have to be with help from our younger players,” King said.

Kaylee Brooks, Lanie Grayson, Hannah Barela, Chloe Boyd and Alyssa Owens will provide the senior leadership for the Lady Devils.     

King noted several members of the 2020 roster have club experience and compete year around.

“I like the team chemistry we have,” the coach said. “Our players back each other up on and off the court.”

The recent Georgia High School Association ruling on delaying the start of football season until September will not cause the same delay for volleyball and other fall sports. King said. However, he would not be surprised if play dates are not held due to the fact there are so many teams in one gym at the same time.

During preseason practice, the GHSA has ruled no spectators can be in the gym. Only players and coaches will be allowed.

The Lady Devils are scheduled to play Dacula in a preseason match Thursday.

Chris Bridges is a columnist and former sports editor for The Walton Tribune.

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