Prep Volleyball: Newnan's comeback year ends in Sweet 16
By DOUG GORMAN
The Newnan Lady Cougars hopes of advancing to the Elite 8 in the Class AAAAAA volleyball tournament ended Tuesday afternoon with a loss to Chattahoochee (25-7, 25-14, 25-22).
Despite losing all three games, Newnan didn’t go down without a fight.
Senior Mimi Yancy’s dig late in the match kept the point alive and Newnan eventually jumped out to a 17-16 lead.
Sophomore Alison Cash’s deep serves helped Newnan take its biggest lead of the third game, as it jumped out to a 22-17 margin.
Newnan was unable pull off the dramatic win as Chattahoochee rolled off the final eight points of the game.
Despite the loss, Newnan was inspired in that third game by a spirited student section that greeted the team with a victory line for the Lady Cougars to run through after the 10-minute halftime break.
“I told our girls, that everybody was still cheering for us and that we needed to keep playing hard,” Newnan head coach Leslie Fant said. “The support really helped us in that third match and we almost pulled it off.
After falling behind 3-0 in the third contest, Newnan fought back cutting the lead to 3-2 on a block by Cash.
Senior Ayla Brewer helped give the Lady Cougars a 4-3 the lead with her strong serving. It was the first time in the match Newnan was out in front on the scoreboard.
Chattahoochee regained control in the middle of the match jumping out front with 12-8 on Reina Terry’s kill. Terry and Haley Templeton were thorns in the side of the Lady Cougars all night with kills or soft put-away shots returned out of the reach of the Newnan lineup.
The Cougars had to climb out of a deep hole after the first match and they was never able to recover.
Despite Yancey’s kill early in the match to cut the lead to 8-5, Chattahoochee outscored Newnan 17-2 the rest of the way.
“After that first match we just had to keep fighting back, and we were never really able to recover,” Fant said.
Newman also kept the middle match close for a time. After falling behind 7-2 after a kill by Chattahoochee’s Amber Evans, Newnan rallied back and cut the margin to 9-7, paced by the serving of Brewer.
Maggie Darracott turned in the play of game two for Newnan, diving deep toward the back of the court to save a shot and keep the point alive. The Lady Cougars eventually won the point to trim the margin to 13-10.
Newnan only managed four more points the rest of the way.
The Lady Cougars advanced to the Sweet 16 with last week’s sweep over McIntosh and despite ending its season with the loss to Chattahoochee, Newnan enjoyed an impressive turnaround.
A year ago, Newnan only won three matches the entire season. This time, the Lady Cougars finished with a 23-17 record.
“It was a great season,” Fant said. “Our girls worked so hard. This was such a different year. This year, they were ready go even before I got to practice. You didn’t have to make them work.”
Fant chalked up the turnaround to the leadership of her two seniors, Yancey and Brewer.
“They were incredible,” she said. “There leadership was great.”
Although replacing her two upperclassmen won’t be easy, she knows the team can build on this season.
“We have shown we can go out there and compete,” Fant said.