Just like last year, Greenbrier High School volleyball player Rachel Cordier was misty-eyed after the Area 3-AAAA finals. But this time she was ready to shed tears of joy.
The Lady Wolfpack and Cordier watched Lakeside High School claim the crown in 2002, breaking Greenbrier's two-year reign.
The Columbia County rivals met again last week, and Greenbrier had its revenge at the 3-AAAA championship match Tues-day at the Brierpatch.
The Lady Pack took control early, and with a mix of power and precision easily swept Lakeside in the best-of-five match by scores of 25-15, 25-10, 25-16.
"We were not about to lose on game point like we did last year," Cordier said. "We didn't want to let them have a chance. We decided it was ours this year."
Lakeside really didn't have a chance to defend its title. Greenbrier, led by middle-hitter Jennifer Wells, saw to that.
"We're usually an up-and-down team," Wells said. "Today we were up. Our tempo never changed. We just played phenomenal."
Greenbrier's serves were on the mark, and that was the least of Lakeside's problems. The Lady Pack players were diving all over the court for saving digs, and their timing at the net was devastating.
"We're not a one-dimensional team. We've been focusing on when to be aggressive and when to lay back," Greenbrier coach Debbie Born said. "We just started asking them to do that two weeks ago, so they're picking it up really quick."
Greenbrier opened tournament play last Saturday at the Brierpatch with wins over Glenn Hills (25-14, 25-13, 25-4) and Lakeside (25-12, 23-25, 25-21, 25-13) to secure a top seed, and home-court advantage for the finals.
The Lady Panthers advanced to the championship match with Saturday victories over Hephzibah (25-4, 25-7, 25-10), Cross Creek (22-25, 25-16, 25-10, 25-17) and Baldwin (25-8, 25-20, 25-22).
Rountree (left) and Wells clown around after winning the Area 3-AAAA volleyball finals against Lakeside. Wells was named Area Player of the Year.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Lakeside ran into its nemesis in the finals. Led by setter Diana Amick, the Lady Panthers posted an overall record or 25-9, but five of those losses were to Greenbrier.
"We kind of made some mental errors," Lakeside coach Kevin Williams said of the area finals. "It seemed like our feet were a little bit heavy."
The only heavy lifting Greenbrier was worried about was the prospect of hoisting the Area 3-AAAA trophy.
"Before the game we weren't talking at all," Wells said. "We were focused on beating them. We wanted to prove that we deserve to be No. 1."
Greenbrier also claimed individual region awards last week: Wells was named Area 3-AAAA player of the year, while Born clinched the coach of the year honors.
Born passed the credit on to seniors Wells, Cordier, Amie Postell and Cassie Rountree.
"They make the team work. We count on them for so many things on the court and off the court," Born said. "They run the team by their skills as well as their character."
Lady Pack underclassmen Sunni Bennett, Adrienne Harris and Emily Joye also played well during the victory over Lakeside.
Greenbrier and Lakeside both advanced to the Class AAAA state tournament, which began this weekend in the Atlanta area. The Lady Pack entered state with a 34-5 record.
For Wells, though, there was a perfect ending already in the books last week at the Brierpatch.
"I have to admit I cried before the match," Wells said. "It wasn't nerves. I was just sad that this was my last time playing at Greenbrier. This has been my life for four years."
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