Thursday night's Greenbrier-Evans showdown on the volleyball court completed the first half of competition between Greenbrier, Evans and Lakeside.
The three Columbia County schools have shared the same region for the past three seasons, and the three-way rivalry goes back even further. All three teams are required to play each other at least twice in the regular season.
After one round of matches, Evans holds the advantage.
The Lady Knights defeated Lakeside in a 2-0 sweep last Tuesday. Evans then traveled to Greenbrier on Thursday night for a 2-1 win over the Lady Wolfpack that solidified Evans as the top team in the county after the first half of the season.
The final piece of the puzzle, Thursday's win over Greenbrier, didn't come easy.
"You're always physically and mentally exhausted after a Greenbrier game," Evans senior Lauren Middleton said.
The Lady Knights quickly distanced themselves from Greenbrier in Game 1 on Thursday with an early 6-0 lead. An Aidan Yeager kill gave Evans the serve, and senior Brittany Gray took over with four consecutive aces to start the game.
Greenbrier never recovered and Evans took Game 1, 25-17.
Game 2 was closer but still saw Evans build a 16-11 lead on another pair of Gray aces. Greenbrier battled back with a 7-1 run to take a one-point lead, but Evans tied the game on a Middleton ace. The Lady Knights took control of the game with a 24-20 advantage, but Greenbrier junior Alex Kizer sparked a 6-0 run for a dramatic 26-24 come-from-behind win.
"I never think a game is over," Kizer said. "We knew we had to get that game. Coach just told us to put skin on the floor."
The third and deciding game came down to Evans' Gray. She started the game with a serve. Seven aces later, Gray and the Lady Knights had an 11-0 lead.
Greenbrier battled back to within five points but never got any closer as Evans took the game and the match 25-17.
The win improved Evans' record to 5-0 and left the Lady Knights as the only undefeated team in the region.
Greenbrier, who took the region title last season, has been the top team in past years. Now the Lady Wolfpack sit at 0-2 against their county rivals so far this season.
"All the girls in Columbia County are now putting in the time in the offseason," Greenbrier volleyball coach Debbie Born said. "We used to be the only team with girls that worked year-round. Now everyone's doing it, I think that's what's equaled everybody out.
"It's good for the sport."
The sport has another positive change this year. With the new region realignment, four teams will go to the state playoffs instead of two as in past years.
That means that for the first time all three schools could qualify for postseason play.
"With the talent in the county there's no doubt all three will go to the state playoffs," Born said.
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