After winning its first game with relative ease, the Greenbrier Lady Wolfpack appeared to be heading to a win in the Elite 8 match of the Class AAAAA State Volleyball Tournament Saturday night.
Playing host to Lakeside DeKalb, the Lady Wolfpack saw its hopes of a state title dashed, however, as the Lady Vikings (29-6) prevailed in five sets, 13-25, 25-19, 25-21, 21-25, 15-11.
The loss ended the season for the Lady Wolfpack, who finished 38-2, losing only one game before Saturday.
The Lady Wolfpack will have to replace five seniors next year, including Jen Purucker, who finished with 11 digs, nine kills, six blocks and four aces.
“This is the best team I’ve ever had, it’s been great,” said Purucker.
She noted the difference between the team’s performance in game one to those in games two and three.
“Sometimes you just want it so bad that you’re just jumping, you just kind of mess yourself up,” Purucker said. “Then we got it together and started fighting for it. It’s just been a blast.”
In game three, the Lady Wolfpack trailed 24-15 before making a run. A DeJhana Cotton ace, two Kenzie Schwartz kills, a Gabbi Meyering kill and a Lakeside error brought the Lady Wolfpack to 24-21. The teams were in a long rally when the Lady Wolfpack was whistled for a net error. When it was determined to be an incorrect call there was a re-play. The Lady Wolfpack served it into the net and the Lady Vikings took the game.
Cotton tied Purucker for the team lead in aces with four, Meyering had 13 kills, Sarah Sather had 18 digs and Hayley Hughes added 37 assists.
That late run in game three spurred the Lady Wolfpack to a quick 3-0 lead in game four and then, leading 16-14, the Lady Vikings served out of order. After a 19-minute debate delay, the Lady Wolfpack got the point for the 17-14 lead. The Lady Vikings got as close as 20-19, but a Cotton kill and ace and a Meyering kill built the lead back to four forced a final game with the 25-21 win.
The Lady Wolfpack trailed 11-10 in the last game when Lady Viking Jenny Rose Miller recorded consecutive kills, beating blockers each time. After a Lady Viking service winner, Miller got one more kill for the final point on which, fittingly, the referees had to huddle to determine the scoring.
“We came across a good team tonight, you know,” said Greenbrier head coach Debbie Born. “(Miller), she was hot. We made adjustments to her but she was just hitting it so hard. The block was there, she was just hitting off our hands so hard, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Senior Jennifer Orial knew what she would look back on.
“The fact that we were just an amazing team all year round,” she said.