Having already shattered the school record for wins in a season, the Augusta Prep volleball team didn’t get the fairy tale ending they were looking for on Saturday.
After rolling through the quarterfinals and semifinals of the 2013 Georgia Independent School Association Class AAA volleyball championships at home on Friday, the Lady Cavaliers ran into a familiar road block in their first state final since 2008.
Facing two-time defending GISA Class AAA state champion Trinity Christian, the Lady Cavaliers pushed the Lady Lions but couldn’t get over the hump, losing 3-1.
“Quite frankly they’re a great team, they’re undefeated for a reason,” said Lady Cavaliers head coach Rich Bland. “I told the girls we’re a great team too, we just faced a team that was better tonight and I am proud our team got better as the season went on.”
In their two previous meetings, the Lady Cavaliers (31-4) didn’t win a game against the Lady Lions, but after losing Game 1 25-16, they had the partisan crowd roaring as they won Game 2 25-19. The Lady Lions then rebounded for a 25-17 win, ultimately setting up the final game, winning 25-22.
The Lady Cavaliers finished the season at 31-4 – three losses coming to Trinity Christian (37-2) – while topping the previous best of 26 wins in 2009.
“We put everything on the court every single game and I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” said senior Jenny Rosenblum.
The Lady Cavaliers weren’t as crisp Saturday as they were on Friday, especially at the service line where they commited 13 errors, five coming in the final game. The Lady Lions also made things tough with their smothering defense and their ability to find open spots on the court for winners.
“They’ve got great vision and they don’t have to hit the ball 100 miles an hour every time to kill you, they’ll use their vision to place the ball where the defense isn’t,” Bland said.
Trailing 3-0 to open the second game, the Lady Cavaliers roared right back, winning eight of the next 10 points to take the lead they would not relinquish.
The Lady Lions jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the final game, forcing the Lady Cavaliers to chase. Four times in the latter stages, the Lady Cavaliers got within a point, but each time the Lady Lions would respond to win the ensuing point.
Fighting a herniated disk in her back, junior Brooke Stevens led the Lady Cavaliers with 12 kills, Hannah Masiongale had 23 set assists and Bunny Doris had 12 digs.
Senior Herrington Murray took the loss graciously.
“They’re a great team and they have been for years, that’s why they have a three-peat under their belt now,” Murray said. “Coming in second to them is not that upsetting.”
Senior Beka Childs looked at the broader scope after the match.
“I don’t consider it a loss. the season itself has been gratifying,” Childs said.
While they swept the Young Americans Christian Lady Eagles (24-7) in three games in Friday’s semifinal, it was a hard-fought win for the Lady Cavaliers.
The game of the match came in the first game as both teams saved multiple game points, with the Lady Cavaliers finally winning, 32-30, on one of Stevens’ nine kills.
“We did our best when our best was needed,” said junior middle hitter Margaret Cavanaugh, who led the Lady Cavaliers with 11 kills.
“All the girls played so well,” Bland said.
Savina Patheja had 10 kills, Masiongale had 32 assists and Cavanaugh had four aces.
The Lady Cavaliers won Game 2, 25-20, then finished off the Lady Eagles 25-17.
In the 10 a.m.quarterfinal, Augusta Prep defeated Mount de Sales, 25-15, 25-18, 26-24.
Cavanaugh led the Lady Cavaliers with 12 kills and six aces while Patheja had nine kills and four aces. Masiongale had 23 assists and Murray had nine digs.
The third and final game was back-and-forth the whole way and was tied at 23. Cavanaugh’s emphatic kill gave the Lady Cavaliers a 24-23 lead, but Mount de Sales tied it right back. Cavanaugh then finished off the match with kills on consecutive points.