Lakeside High School volleyball players Jenna Haynes, Kelly Newman and Brittany Adams saved the best for last.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The three seniors helped lift the Lady Panthers to their first-ever region championship, and the fun didn't stop there, as Lakeside won three matches at the Class AAAA state sectionals to clinch an inaugural berth in the Elite Eight tournament this weekend in Atlanta.
"With Greenbrier advancing too, I think this definitely puts Augusta on the map," Newman said. "Atlanta has most of the good teams, but we're giving Augusta a good name in volleyball."
Newman is Lakeside's middle blocker, Haynes plays the middle hitter position, while Adams shuffles between the setter and outside hitter slots.
"Kelly has played on the varsity for four years, Jenna and Brittany have played for three years, and they've helped build a tradition," Lakeside coach Keri Smith said.
Making school history is hard work, especially when your arch-rival is a point away from dashing your dreams. Lakeside was in that situation during the region finals, but the Lady Panthers stormed back to take the best-of-five match from Greenbrier.
For Haynes, the stirring rally was no surprise.
"In the past month, we've really concentrated on perfecting our skills and coming together as a team. I'm really excited about our success. We wanted it so bad for so long."
Now, in their last season on the court, the Lakeside seniors earned the right to match skills with the best prep players in the state.
"We don't have anything to lose," Adams said. "At state you can hit as hard as you can, play as hard as you can, and show what you can do. A perfect ending would be to play like we played in the region tournament."
If that's not enough to lead Lakeside to the top, Newman wouldn't mind. Just being on the court with her teammates competing in the Elite Eight makes a great final chapter.
"We just want to play our hardest and give it our all. I want to have fun, because this is probably be the last day I'll be playing volleyball."
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