On Sept. 9, Grovetown volleyball stood at 2-9 with four consecutive losses.
Then, a funny thing happened.
Instead of the young, inexperienced Warriors getting disheartened after a tough start to the season, they began to prove that the experience they gained against solid competition had paid off.
Grovetown started winning and kept winning. Even when the team fell short, the attitude among the Warriors was one of appreciating that there's something to be learned from a loss.
"We lost, but it was definitely better in the second game," Kristi Sammons said after a 3-2 loss to Westside on Sept. 28. "It's been going good. We're facing good teams and trying to do our best in every game."
The Warriors rode a newfound confidence into the Area 3-AAA Tournament. They won three consecutive matches to guarantee a spot in the Class AAA state playoffs.
Grovetown finished the tournament in style, sweeping Westside in three games to earn the first area or region title in the school's two-year history.
"I was ecstatic, jumping up and down with them," coach Amy Slagle said at the time. "It's awesome. They did it. ... That's history right there."
The Warriors continued their run, defeating North Atlanta in three out of four games Oct. 16 to advance to the second round.
That's where the run ended, as Grovetown fell 3-1 (25-18, 25-21, 20-25, 25-14) to Cartersville on Tuesday to end a remarkable season.
Against the Purple Hurricanes, the Warriors lost the first two games before rallying to win the third. In the fourth game, Grovetown could not come back after a string of early errors.
Cartersville coach Scott Busby acknowledged the difficulty his squad had in finishing off the Warriors.
"You never want to go five -- anything can happen," he said. "And it was pretty equally matched."
For Slagle, the postseason run -- and the entire season -- provides hope that the squad could have its best days ahead. That's because Grovetown returns its entire roster for next season.
"It hurts to lose," Slagle said. "But if we can get this far, then you think, 'What is the limit?'"
State's top squad knocks Wolfpack out
Greenbrier's season came to an end Tuesday with a loss to Pope in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
Pope, ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AAAA with only one loss all season, dominated the match -- 25-6, 25-8, 25-8.
Greenbrier defeated Clarke Central in the first round.
Last year, the Greyhounds won the Class AAAAA state championship and defeated Greenbrier in the Elite Eight en route to the title.
Helping the Greyhounds' cause was outside hitter Mary Hoey, the 2009 Gatorade Georgia Volleyball Player of the Year.
Narrow defeat ends season for Knights
Evans played close in all three games but fell to Jonesboro in a sweep Tuesday in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs.
After defeating Flowery Branch in the first round, Evans fell 25-17, 26-24, 25-20.
The Knights advanced to the playoffs after finishing second in Region 2-AAAA.
Wayne Staats of The Augusta Chronicle contributed to this report.
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