While the final outcome wasn’t a shock, there were still plenty of surprises at the Area 2-AAAAA volleyball tournament Friday and Saturday at Grovetown.
Winning their third-consecutive area crown and fourth in five years, the Greenbrier High School Lady Wolfpack (26-14) rolled to the area title Saturday afternoon.
Entering as the No. 1 seed, the Lady Wolfpack began Saturday morning after a Friday-night bye. They blew past Northside, Warner Robins, took out Houston County in the semifinals then beat Houston County once more in the best-of-five championship match (25-15, 25-18, 25-20) all without dropping a game.
Junior middle hitter/blocker DeJhana Cotton was breathless with joy after the championship match.
“I’m so happy, I’m so proud of my girls,” Cotton said. “We all played so hard and worked well together, everything was perfect, great passes, great serves, great hits and we just synchronized everything.”
All-Area first team selections Cotton and the team’s lone senior Gabbi Meyering were deadly with their attacks throughout the day, Cotton mostly in the middle while Meyering was virtually unstoppable from the outside. Cotton finished the championship match with 13 kills while Meyering added seven kills and four aces. Lauren Ingalls recorded 25 set assists in the process.
They were far from alone in their efforts, however, as Sarah White and Katie Anne Wood helped dominate the net both offensively and defensively. White finished with seven kills and a block while Wood had four kills and two blocks.
Head coach Debbie Born thought that while Cotton and Meyering were outstanding, it was the overall team play that propelled the Lady Wolfpack to the title and a No. 1 seed in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA state volleyball playoffs that begin Thursday.
“All week long we just said, you do your job, whatever rotation you’re in, you do that well and we will win,” Born said.
Joining Greenbrier in the state playoffs is surprise No. 7 seed Evans (4-19). They lost to Lakeside but rebounded to eliminate Grovetown Friday night. Saturday, they beat Northside 2-0, earning a spot in the state playoffs. They finished off Warner Robins 2-1 but fell just short of the championship round as they were ousted by Houston County (9-24).
“They have finally learned how to win, and when you get to 20 points, they finally learned how to close a game out,” said first-year head coach Lauren Farr, who made the state playoffs with Evans as a player in 2006. “Their confidence is at an all time high right now. They’re making less errors, they’re moving their feet more and it it just all came together this weekend.”
Coming in as a No. 2 seed, it was a disappointing weekend for the Lakeside Lady Panthers. After beating Evans, the Lady Panthers faced off against Houston County, the team that gave them their only region loss of the year, Saturday morning. They got off to slow starts while losing both games, then couldn’t recover as they were eliminated by Warner Robins again in two games.
Despite the outcome, the Lady Panthers finished the year with a 28-10 record and head coach Maureen McCormack was voted the Area 2-AAAAA Coach of the Year.
“I’m very proud of the girls, I think the program is back to where we want to be,” said McCormack. “Learning how to win these big games is the next step but I think we’re so much closer than we’ve been in a number of years, so that’s nice.”