Prep Volleyball Roundup: East Coweta goes distance vs. defending state champs
By DOUG GORMAN
If Thursday night’s volleyball games would have been a prize fight, very little would have been made about East Coweta going the distance and still losing to two of the sport’s heavyweights.
But taking Sandy Creek (28-26, 19-24 and 25-17) and Walton (21-25, 25-15 and 25-16) to three games, East Coweta coaches Dena Taylor and Katey Lewis know just how far their team has come in the past couple of years despite losing both matches Friday at John Thrower Gym.
“This is far better than what it could have been in years past,” Taylor said. “We just know playing these type matches, we are going to get better.”
It was the first time an East Coweta team has managed to win even a game off of Walton.
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East Coweta took charge of the first game against Walton pulling a head for good at 21-20 on an ace by Erin Gould
A block by Jessi Bartolomew pushed the led to 23-20 and the Lady Indians closed out the first game from there.
The momentum seemed to carry over briefly in the second game against Walton as East Coweta used the line drive from Sydney Mauer to build a 3-0 lead. It didn’t last long as Walton pulled away and eventually led 17-7.
Late in the match, Bartholomew’s kill closed the gap to 19-13 and Sydney Mauer had back-to-back points to cut lead to five, but that was close as they could get in the second game against Walton.
In the finale with Walton, the Lady Indians fell behind 10-3, but put together an impressive run when Freeman served her team to four straight points to cut the gap to 10-8. Late in the match, Walton increased the lead to 22-12 when the Lady Raiders outscored East Coweta 12-4 down the stretch.
In the most entertaining match of the night, East Coweta and Sandy Creek exchanged leads several times the first game before the Lady Patriots won 28-26.
The loss in game one spoiled some clutch serving performances by the Lady Indians. Freeman had an ace during a span of four straight points and Lexy Zelczak had two straight aces early to help tie the game at 10.
Mauer’s ace gave East Coweta a 18-16 lead. The Lady Indians held game point twice against Sandy Creek after taking 24-23 and 25-24 leads, but were unable to put it away.
After Katie Jones point gave the Lady Indians a 25-24 lead, Sandy Creek battled back and outscored the Lady Indians down the stretch to win 28-26.
East Coweta took the middle game of the match against the Lady Patriots with more solid serving and timely kills.
At one stretch, Gould's serving helped the Lady Indians rattle off six points in a row and take a 17-11 lead en route to the win.
In the deciding game of the night, East Coweta knows it probably should have put Sandy Creek away. Kills by Bartholomew and Zelczak gave East Coweta a 12-2 lead. However, Sandy Creek came back and scored the next 11 points to take a 13-12 lead.
Although East Coweta tied the game twice after that, Sandy Creek never trailed again.
“We really aren’t worried too much about wins and loses at this stage,” said Lewis. “We know the important things is being there at the end.”
The victory gave Sandy Creek head coach Paul Collins his 500th career win,
• NORTHGATE GETS SWEEP
The Northgate volleyball team celebrated the return of senior Elle McCord Thursday night in the best way possible – a sweep of two of the best teams in the state.
Northgate knocked off Greater Atlanta Christian 25-20, 25-23 and defending Class A state champion Eagle’s Landing Christian 25-22, 28-26 and 25-17.
“Her return made such a big difference,” said Northgate coach Matt Trucks. “You could feel it.”
McCord, who missed the first month of the season, has already committed to play college volleyball at Georgia and returned in a big way in Thursday’s sweep with 28 digs. Randee Harvel finished with 26. Harvel also had a team high 20 kills with Lexi Rose adding 17 kills.
Brittany Scarbrough led the way with 49 assists. Rose topped off the night with three aces.
Eagle’s Landing Christian and Greater Atlanta Christian met last year in the Class A state finals.
“This was just a great win,” Trucks said. “They might be in Class A, but they are still two of the best teams we are going to face all year.”
Northgate, which is ranked 7th in the Gasports.com Class AAAAA Coaches’ poll, moved its record to 13-3.