Greenbrier’s players hustled even more than usual for digs. Kayla Berns even ran over a metal folding chair on the sidelines – on two occasions – just to keep a pair of points alive.
The Wolfpack did just that.
“You’ve just got to keep telling yourself to play hard,” said Berns, a senior setter. “This is it. If we don’t win this game, then that’s it.”
In a tightly contested matchup with No. 4 Johns Creek, the Wolfpack came up just short, falling 25-18, 25-19 and 29-27 in the second round of the state playoffs.
The Gladiators (48-9) steadily built a lead en route to an opening-game victory.
The Wolfpack (27-6) grabbed an early advantage in Game 2, but their opponents won six consecutive points to go up 19-13.
Though Greenbrier rallied with a four-point run of its own, featuring kills by Jennifer Purucker and Jennifer Orial, Johns Creek closed out the game with four of the final five points.
While the first two games featured intense, high-level play, Game 3 was on an entirely different plane.
Greenbrier went down 7-1 early, then trailed 21-19 on the brink of elimination.
Five points later, the Wolfpack led 24-21 and were one point away from forcing a fourth game.
The Gladiators rallied, though, evening the score.
It brought the home crowd at Greenbrier to its feet.
“We probably wouldn’t have been able to stick with these guys tonight if we didn’t have people cheering so loud,” Berns said.
The Wolfpack fought off three match points before Annika Olsen closed it out with one of her match-high 14 kills.
For Greenbrier, senior Alex Powell had seven kills, while juniors Purucker and Kenzie Schwartz each had six.
Berns added 15 assists and nine digs.
The Wolfpack’s play impressed an opponent that entered the match unfamiliar with its state playoff foe.
“They’re actually really great,” said Johns Creek’s Brittany Boslet, who had 11 kills and six blocks. “We expected it to be tough, but not that tough, especially the third game.”
“We fought so hard, and I have to say I think that, no matter what, we gave that last game our all,” Powell said.