Lakeside volleyball coach Kevin Williams compared his team to the Boston Red Sox as the Lady Panthers entered the Area 2-AAAA championship Thursday night at the Brierpatch.
The Lady Panthers were the underdogs and nobody thought they would win, Williams said.
But Lakeside did win (21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-23), shocking the Greenbrier crowd, who had not seen their team lose an area match all season.
The Lady Wolfpack breezed through the area schedule, winning nine consecutive games before the area championship.
Lakeside's potential to pull an upset was evident by the close matches it had played with No. 9 Greenbrier all season.
The Panthers lost four area games, all to Greenbrier, but took the Wolfpack to three games in each match preceding Thursday's final. The area final was a best-of-five match, while normal season games are the best-of-three format.
"Greenbrier has a great team," said Lakeside co-captain Natasha Reynolds. "But we had been nipping at their heels every time we played them. We knew we could catch them and tonight we did."
The Lady Panthers led in every match; they never trailed in the second and third matches.
But after the Lady Panthers dropped a hard-fought first game, it seemed the Lady Wolfpack might finish off the Lady Panthers as they had four times previously this season.
"We just stayed focused," Reynolds said. "We kept it together and it showed how good this team can be."
It is Lakeside's second area title in three seasons.
Both teams qualified for the state tournament in the region tournament this past week. The double-elimination state tournament begins Saturday.
By winning the region, Lakeside (21-10) will play either Habersham Central or Clarke Central.
A win by the Lady Panthers sets up a probable second-round matchup with top-ranked Woodward Academy.
Greenbrier will travel to Marist to play Clarke Central, a team that Greenbrier has split two matches with this year. If the Lady Wolfpack win, it would play the winner of No. 1 Marist and either McIntosh or Sandy Creek, both ranked.
"We have to regroup and start playing better volleyball if we want to keep playing deep into the tournament," Greenbrier coach Debbie Born said. "This team has a lot of potential and we can make some noise in the state tournament if we play well."
The 16-team state tournament is double-elimination with the top team in each quadrant advancing to the Final Four at Woodward Academy.
After the game, Lakeside's Reynolds and Dana Tyler joined Greenbrier's Sunni Bennett on the All-Area team.
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