Prep Volleyball: State tournament time arrives Coweta teamsBy DOUG GORMAN
Northgate, East Coweta and Newnan will all be in action today on the volleyball court in the first-round of state tournament play with one thing in mind – earning a trip to the GHSA Sweet 16.
Some will have to take the long road to the second round, pun intended.
All state playoff matches move to a best-of-five format.
Area 5-AAAAA is arguably the toughest area in state with five teams ranked in the gasports.com coaches poll.
The Lady Vikings knocked off both Ola and Starr’s Mill during the area tournament to advance to the state level. During the season, Northgate put together two, long winning streaks this year — a string of 11 consective victories early in the season and a five-game winning streak late in the season.
Glenn Academy enters the state tournament with a 22-13 record after finishing as the No. 2 seed from Area 3-AAAAA with a final win over Richmond Hill.
A year ago, Northgate was unable to get out of the first round after losing to Rockdale County 3-2.
In Class AAAAAA, East Coweta enters the first round of the state tournament hoping to make another run to the Elite 8. But it won’t be easy.
Roswell travels to John Thrower Gym today at 5 p.m. while entering with a 25-18 record and a No. 10 ranking in the final regular season Class AAAAAA poll, despite finishing fifth in its area.
Area 4-AAAAAA, led by champion and No. 1-ranked Walton (29-7), also includes qualifiers Woodstock (33-14), Etowah (30-17) and Lassiter (20-26), which knocked off Roswell in the area tournament.
It won’t be unchartered territory for the Lady Indians.
A year ago, East Coweta made a run at the state tournament, knocking off Woodstock and Parkview, who were both ranked at the time, in the first two rounds.
The Lady Indians posted a 25-14 record during the 2012 campaign. Last weekend East Coweta captured the Area 2-AAAAAA tournament with a sweep of all five of its opponents.
East Coweta officially earned its No.1-seed when it beat Newnan 3-0 in the championship.
Lady Indians head coach Dena Taylor said East Coweta wants to prove it can match up with some of the more traditional volleyball powers, especially the teams from on the north side of Atlanta.
“We want to go out there and prove we belong,” she said. “The sport is changing, so many of our girls are now playing club ball, and that is making a big difference.”
Despite its loss to East Coweta in the area tournament finals, Newnan also earned the right to play at home.
The Lady Cougars, who have enjoyed an amazing turnaround season, open first-round play today at home at 5 p.m., against McEachern.
After winning just three matches in 2011, Newnan posted a 22-16 record this fall that included 10 consecutive victories while dropping just one game during the string.
The Lady Cougars face a McEachern team that posted a 21-16 record and finished as the No. 5 seed in a deep Area 3-AAAAAA lineup of schools from talent-rich Cobb County. The Lady Indians finished third in the regular season standings, but had to rally to grab the final state-playoff berth in its postseason tournament, won by No. 2 state-ranked Harrison.
The GISA State Tournament will begin on Friday, Oct. 26 with No. 1 state-ranked Trinity Christian looking to add its second straight state championship.
The Lady Lions (31-3) have dominated Region 2-AAA opponents this year with a 6-0 record heading into Tuesday’s match against The Heritage School. Trinity hasn’t lost a game since a 3-1 win over Mount de Sales on Aug. 23. All three losses this year have been against non-GISA opponents.
Trinity wraps up region play with a match against Stratford today before preparing for the state tournament with non-region matches next week.
The Heritage School entered this week following a four-set victory over Stratford Academy. Monique Renaud and Cara Stechman led the defensive effort and Renaud led the team with seven aces. Abbie Duke, Hailey Pierce and Zofia Powell combined for 32 kills and Emily Taylor had seven blocks.
Heritage’s JV picked up wins over both Mount de Sales and Stratford. Edie Haugen and Hembree Monk led a three-set win over Mount de Sales. The team also held off Stratford in three sets.
GHSA State Volleyball Tournament First Round
Today (Best of 5 games)
No. 10 Roswell (25-18) at East Coweta (25-14), 4:30 p.m.
McEachern (21-16) at Newnan (22-16), 5 p.m.
No. 5 Northgate (28-18) at Glynn Academy (21-13), 4 p.m.