Coweta Volleyball Championships: East Coweta trumps Northgate for title
By DOUG GORMAN
The East Coweta Lady Indians are the new queens of the volleyball court in Coweta County.
It just took eight years to reach the mountaintop again.
East Coweta sophomore Jessi Bartholomew led the way with 24 kills, but perhaps her biggest came when she broke a 13-13 tie in the deciding game with the Lady Vikings to put East Coweta out front for good.
Savannah Freeman had a solid night serving, leading to 24 points in the two matches. After Bartholomew put the Lady Indians back out front, Freeman’s serve helped East Coweta jump out to 19-13 lead. Lexi Zelczak finished with 14 kills and Erin Gould added 15 digs.
“It is huge, especially my senior year,” Zelczak said.” We were playing as a team, and once Northgate got down, they couldn’t get back up.”
The Lady Indians won the tournament in their own back yard in front of an energetic crowd, especially their classmates.
“Being at home was huge,” Freeman said. “Having such a big crowd really helped us.”
For Makayla Aitken, Thursday’s victory could help jump-start the season.
“We have been trying to get county bragging rights for a long time and to be able to do it my senior year is huge”, she said. “We will learn from the few mistakes we made and go from there.”
East Coweta improved its record to 10-8 overall. The victory against Newnan also counts in the Area 2-AAAAAA standings, moving its league record to 1-0.
(To view or purchase photos from the tournament, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Volleyball for the Photo Gallery.)
Lady Indians coach Dena Taylor knows its been a long time coming, but the victory shows just how far her team has progressed.
“This means so much for our seniors,” she said. “I am more here for them, then I am for myself. I am so happy that they came together when they had to.”
Northgate’s struggles began early as they came up against a determined Newnan team (25-18, 25-22).
Newnan got solid play from seniors Mimi Yancey and Ayla Brewer throughout the night, but it wasn’t enough to push them over the top against the Lady Vikings. Alison Cash’s points off her serve in the first game against Northgate actually gave Newnan a brief 6-5 lead.
Northgate’s Lexi Rose solid serving twice late in the match helped Northgate stay in the lead.
The Lady Vikings should have put the second game of the match against Newnan away early, after Randee Harvel pushed the Lady Vikings lead to 4-1 and Elle McCord later gave Northgate a 10-2 edge, but Newnan fought back each time, eventually cutting the lead to 16-12. Newnan got the match as close 22-18, before Northgate closed things out.
The end of Northgate’s long tournament run left head coach Matt Trucks disappointed.
“The better team won,” Trucks said. “They played better today than we did that is about all I can say.”
Northgate, which came into the county tournament ranked fifth in the Gasports.com Class AAAAA Coaches’ poll, played its best volleyball in the middle game with East Coweta.
The Lady Vikings led most of the way after McCord’s kill gave Northgate a 2-1 lead.
Northgate’s sent the match to a third game after Harvel’s ace gave the Lady Vikings a 25-17 victory.
The Lady Vikings won’t have too much time to dwell on their loss to East Coweta. Northgate plays today and Saturday in the Lovett Block Party.
Despite a hard effort out of the Lady Cougars, Newnan drops to 7-9. They play again next Tuesday at region foe Langston Hughes.
“I was really expecting us to play better,” Newnan coach Leslie Fant said. “We may have to juggle some things around.”
East Coweta rides its wave of momentum into Saturday’s Southern Volleyball Center Georgia Challenge.