Volleyball and softball season have come to an end in Columbia County.
In volleyball, the Georgia Indpendent School Association championship held at Augusta Prep was won for the second year in a row by Trinity Christian after the hosting Lady Cavaliers fell in the semifinals to runner-up Calvary Christian.
Greenbrier was 38-1 heading into its GHSA Class AAAAA State Volleyball Tournament Elite 8 home match with Lakeside DeKalb, but lost in a tough five games.
Head coach Rich Bland’s Lady Cavaliers (19-8) squad won its region from 2002 to 2010. After not winning it in 2011, the team’s first goal was to re-take the Region 1-AAA title, which it did with a perfect 8-0 record.
After dispatching Heritage in the first round of the state tournament, the team played about as well as I’ve seen it play, only to run into a buzzsaw named Melissa McCarty on the other side of the court. She dominated the game from every spot on the floor.
Bland called McCarty, who is a senior, a game-changer and gave credit to Calvary Christian for its play. He was proud of his girls for fighting back from an 0-2 deficit to take game three 26-24 before succumbing in game four.
“The girls played with a lot of heart and they have nothing to be ashamed of,” said Bland. “We’re a young team, at times our youth showed...You forget that we’re starting five sophomores. That bodes well for the future.”
I was impressed with the way the Greenbrier volleyball team handled itself this year. It was gracious in victory, and in the only loss of the year I saw, the comportment during and after the match was exemplary. Questionable calls against the team were shaken off and it continued to play, unlike its opponents, which had a player get a rare yellow card for her whining to and about the referee.
After the match head coach Debbie Born was, of course, disappointed, but still spoke well of the other team before giving love to her team.
“It is my best team ever,” said Born. “I hate to say it against all my alumni friends who are here, ex-players who are here. Percentage-wise it speaks for itself. I love these girls...It’s been a great ride with these seniors.”
In GHSA softball, Harlem (29-9) had a fantastic season, winning the Region 3-AA tournament and advancing to the state Class AA Elite 8. It dropped the first game of the double-elimination tournament and fought back to win the second contest before losing 4-1 to Heard County.
Coach Mike Leverett was proud of his girls and said some of them are already getting ready for next year.
The Lady Wolfpack (30-8) also won their region title and moved to the state Elite 8 for Class AAAAA. They lost to eventual runner-up Pope, which has a pitcher being heavily recruited by SEC schools, in the first round. The team found a way to come back and hang on to beat Northgate 12-11 before losing to third-place finisher Whitewater, 11-8.
“The kids battled, they fought,” said Lady Wolfpack coach Garrett Black. “I’ve been doing this 18-19 years and I don’t know if I’ve been as proud of a group as this one. They never quit and I mean against some really, really good softball teams. We almost snuck in there and made it to Saturday.”
Black was also proud of the way Greenbrier and Harlem handled themselves in Columbus, Ga.
“Harlem had a great season,” Black said. “Coach Leverett did a great job with those girls. Both our girls and Harlem’s girls represented Columbia County with class. I’m so proud of our girls and Harlem’s girls and our parents and Harlem’s parents, how we were both pulling for each other down there. Columbia County has some classy programs.”