For the Augusta Prep Lady Cavaliers to win the 2013 Georgia Independent School Association Class AAA state volleyball title, they will have to get contributions from all ends of the bench.
That is what they got Tuesday night as they swept the Lady Patriots of Wardlaw Academy in three games of their best-of-five match.
The Lady Cavaliers improved to 8-1 for the year, and head coach Rich Bland got glimpses of what his team could be.
“We’re having a decent season so far, but we have a chance to go deep in the state playoffs which is always our goal,” said Bland. “I am proud of how we played out set one and set three and (Hannah Masiongale’s) serving, when she gets on a roll, she’s tough.”
The junior Masiongale led with three aces, none bigger than at the end of the first game.
The Lady Cavaliers saw a 23-15 lead evaporate and turn into a 24-23 deficit. A Margaret Cavanaugh emergency, one-handed tap landed safely to tie the score, then Masiongale finished off the Lady Patriots (3-1) with an ace and service winner for the 26-24 win.
“I knew that I had to help my team out and I had to go strong, but it had to be in,” said Masiongale on serving out the first game. “I wasn’t going to go 100 percent, but I was going to go 70.”
Before the Lady Patriots could catch their breath, Masiongale stepped to the line for game two as the Lady Cavaliers raced out to a 7-0 lead, and were never really challenged in the 25-12 win.
“It always helps when you kind of have that big lead and then you lose it because you kind of get ‘oh yeah we’ve got this in the bag.’” Masiongale said. “When you get so close and you go over 25, that momentum just goes right into the second game and we live off of our momentum.”
Masiongale would finish the night with 15 assists, three aces and three kills. Seven different players recorded kills, led by junior Savina Patheja’s eight and five apiece from Cavanaugh and senior Beka Childs. Senior libero Herrington Murray had 13 digs, helping get Masiongale in position for her sets.
In a tight game three, the two squads were knotted at 17 before the Lady Cavaliers went on a 6-0 run to break it open. Murray served five of the points and was helped by two Cavanaugh kills and one from Patheja. Fittingly, Masiongale stepped to the line for the final serve and set up Childs for a crosscourt kill from her outside hitter position for the 25-19 final.
The Lady Cavaliers will be even more dangerous if junior Brooke Stevens is able to return from a back injury that has caused her to miss the entire season thus far. So while they’re winning, Bland is still fine-tuning his rotations.
“It’s the third lineup we’ve tried in the last three matches, so we’re trying to find the right puzzle pieces to go together,” Bland said. “We’ve got the right players on the team and on the court, we’re just trying to get that right combination as far as a lineup to be consistent.”