To a girl, the Western Albemarle tennis team will admit last season's appearance in the VHSL Group AA semifinals was a new and lesson-teaching experience.
The Warriors fell to Spotswood in the Final Four last year but are back in the semifinals, hoping to lean on that experience when they face EC Glass on Friday in Blacksburg.
"You know we've been there, we know what it's like, we know how to prepare" Western head coach Ellen Markowitz said Wednesday during practice. "We can actually visualize being at Virginia Tech because we were there last year so I think the girls are much more prepared and much more ready in a certain way."
Claire Park, one of two Warrior seniors, agrees.
"We've worked really hard and it's definitely made us a lot stronger. And considering we've played (EC Glass) before, we kind of have an idea of what they're like."
Western won its third straight Jefferson District crown under Markowitz, then dispatched John Handley to claim the Region II title.
A 5-1 win over Eastern View in the AA quarterfinals put Western back in familiar territory. Now the Warriors find themselves just two wins away from a state title.
"It's good to have another chance to possibly win a state championship and to have our banner out there at the front of the school like a lot of other sports do," Park said.
Western junior Emily Kochard is a big part of the team's success and will have a busy couple days in Blacksburg. Not only will she help Western try to win the team title, Kochard is in the singles draw semifinals on Thursday as well.
"It's not really a burden because I love playing and I love competing. It's a lot but I'm excited for it and just happy to still be playing," Kochard said.
"We're real happy to put ourselves in a position to play for a state championship. You know a lot of teams wish they were practicing today and still in it so we're excited about that," Markowitz added.