VB Player of Year: Northgate senior overcomes injury, leads Lady Vikings to Elite 8
By DOUG GORMAN
The 2012 volleyball season didn’t start out nearly as well as it finished for Northgate senior Elle McCord.
After verbally committing to the University of Georgia more than a year ago, McCord started her final varsity year watching the action from the sidelines when doctors advised her to rest her leg for the first month of the season.
Despite missing 14 matches, McCord earned The Newnan Times-Herald Player of the Year honors after coming up with 126 kills, 36 aces and 29 assists.
“In my opinion she is one of the most versatile players in the state,” said head coach Matt Trucks, who used McCord at both the libero (defensive specialist) and outside hitter positions.
While playing outside hitter in seven matches, McCord posted half of her 126 kills, averaging 8.5 per game. She still managed to finish third in Class AAAAA in digs-per-game and total digs in defensive categories while earning All-Region 4-AAAAA and All-State honors.
Six players each were named to the first, second and third teams on this year’s Newnan Times-Herald Coweta All-County volleyball squad.
Three players also earned honorable mention in what was a successful year for varsity lineups. It included trips to the postseason for all five local teams.
Two other Northgate teammates joined McCord by garnering first team honors.
Junior outside hitter Randee Harvel, who finished the year with 347 kills, and senior setter Brittany Scarbrough, a three-year starter, earned first-team honors. Scarbrough finished with 778 assists, third most in Class AAAAA, while also being named to the All-Region 4-AAAAA team.
Northgate ended its season with a 4-1 loss (23-25, 25-13, 25-20, 25-21) to Starr’s Mill after reaching the state quarterfinals.
“What can you say, they are like daughters,” Trucks said after the season-ending loss. “They have been a part of this program for a long time. I told the girls coming back that this gives us something to build on next year.
It’ll be hard for Trinity Christian to top its 2012 season — though the Lady Lions managed to better their initial GISA state championship campaign from last fall.
Going undefeated against GISA opponents, Trinity Christian dominated during a 34-3 season en route to a second consecutive Class AAA title under head coach Joe Camp, while posting three senior players on the first team.
They included outside hitter Ashton Bigler, who ended the year with team highs in kills (274) and aces (103) while second among Lady Lions with 200 digs. Elissa Waldrop played both in the middle and right side of the front line, ended the year with a team-high 62 blocks to go with 233 kills and 102 aces.
Setting the table for the duo on offense, senior Micayla Patterson led Trinity Christian with 645 assists and in kill percentage (.400).
All three players are headed to play for Georgia College & State University while remaining teammates in their collegiate careers.
Trinity Christian's only losses came in tournament matches to out of state opponents and the team didn’t surrender a game from Aug. 23 through late October before defeating Calvary Christian for the second straight year in the finals, 3-1. The Lady Lions also posted a pair of wins against public school teams from South Carolina.
Joining that group on the first team was East Coweta sophomore Jessi Bartholomew. She helped lead the Lady Indians to the Coweta County championship and also a region title and made first team with 339 kills and 43 blocks. Bartholomew and her Lady Indian teammates earned Coweta County bragging rights, becoming the first squad other than Northgate to win the tournament in eight years.
East Coweta ended its season with a 25-15 record following a loss to Roswell in state tournament play.
“We just have to keep getting better and working on get back and going farther in the state tournament,” East Coweta head coach Dena Taylor said.
Newnan had the biggest turnaround of any of the teams in the county. After winning just three games in 2011, the Lady Cougars compiled a 23-17 record this season and went two rounds deep into the Class AAAAAA tournament.
The Lady Cougars had two senior players earning selections to the second team. Both outside hitters Mimi Yancey and Ayla Brewer helped pace the program’s turnaround season, finishing at 23-19 and reaching the Class AAAAAA Sweet 16.
“Everybody came to practice ready to work,” Newnan head coach Leslie Fant said earlier this year. “The girls just wanted to get better.”
Brewer led the Cougars with 368 blocks, 58 blocks, 66 aces, and 106 kills.
“She pushed herself hard every game and played with very few errors. Got the job done when it needed to be done,” Fant said.
Fant pointed to Yancey’s leadership on and off the court, with “amazing leadership and attitude in that aspect,” Fant said.
Two Lady Indians players also earned second team honors. Setter Sydney Mauer finished the year with 654 assists and 283 digs, while adding 73 kills and 76 aces. Senior middle hitter Lexy Zelczak finished with 160 kills, 53 aces and 35 blocks.
Trinity Christian and Northgate each had one player make the second team.
Junior outside hitter Alex Huber finished the year at Trinity Christian with 175 digs and 136 kills and 81 aces.
Northgate junior middle hitter Micayla Crooks finished with 90 blocks to earn her second team honors.
Two players from Newnan and Northgate earned third-team volleyball honors.
Defensive specialist Maggie Darracott, just a sophomore, led Newnan in digs and turned in solid play from the back row. Another newcomer, junior middle hitter Julie Masonheimer also earned a spot on the third team while taking on a bigger role on the varsity this year.
East Coweta junior defensive specialist Savannah Freeman and Northgate freshman middle hitter Savannah Moore each earned selections to the third team. Freeman had 232 digs, second on the team behind Mauer. Moore finished with an impressive 90 blocks, fourth most among Class AAAAA statistics.
Making the GISA Elite 8 in its first varsity season, The Heritage School was paced by third team selection Halley Hunt. The Lady Hawks’ freshman setter earned All-State honors and finished with a team-high 341 assists to go with 24 digs, 32 kills and 31 aces. Two other Heritage School players — eighth grader Monique Renaud and sophomore outside hitter Abbie Duke — were honorable mentions.
Trinity Christian freshman middle hitter MacKenzie Coyle, who contributed heavily as a ninth grader, was also named among honorable mention after posting 36 1/2 blocks, second on the Lady Lions.