East Coweta repeats as county volleyball champs
by Doug Gorman
It’s been a challenging week for East Coweta volleyball team members off the floor.
While coping with the loss of junior classmate and cheerleader Madeline McTier, who died following a bout with brain cancer on Tuesday, the Lady Indians also spent part of the week without first year head coach Amber McClure, who was out of town folllowing the death of her grandfather.
Yet the Lady Indians still managed to take care of business during this year’s Coweta County Championships by sweeping Northgate (21-25, 25-21, 25-20) and Newnan (25-13, 25-19) to repeat last year’s title.
“It has been a very strange week,” McClure said. “ I think the way they improved with every touch says a lot. It has been an emotionally draining week, but we worked really hard to overcome things.”
Jessie Bartholomew and Dominique Ingram often put the finishing touches on points en route to the Lady Indians’ sweep of the county opponents.
Bartholomew led East Coweta with 30 kills in the two victories, and Ingram added 20.
Both benefitted from Lady Indian senior setter Sydney Mauer, who had 49 assists.
In the final match of the night against Newnan, East Coweta senior libero Savannah Freeman tracked down several shots while finishing with 17 digs.
Junior outside hitter Haylea Mannebach added 10 digs en route to the victory over Newnan.
“It wasn’t our best showing, but we were just really consistent out there,” McClure said.
East Coweta showed it could rally with its back to the wall in its opening match after Northgate won game one 25-21. It came after the Lady Vikings had defeated host Newnan in three games to open the tri-match.
Paced by the play of MacKenzie Crenshaw early, who started the game with a block, the Lady Vikings scored the first two points of the match and teammate Taylor Bigler helped push it further to 7-4 as Northgate was able to pull away.
Savannah Moore also made key points for Northgate to keep the Lady Vikings during the night.
East Coweta, however, regained momentum in the second set, jumping out to a 16-7 lead and held off a couple of Northgate rallies.
In the deciding game between teams, the Lady Vikings cut the lead to 20-17, but no closer.
Northgate, which had won the county tournament seven years in a row until last year, put itself in position to regain the bragging rights with a victory over Newnan (23-25, 25-13, 25-22) in Thursday’s first match.
Newnan, however, made the Lady Vikings work for every point. The Lady Cougars entered the tournament with their back to the wall playing without setter Tiffany Maes, who was lost for the season two weeks ago when she suffered a knee injury that has forced head coach Leslie Fant to juggle her lineup.
At Thursday’s tournament, senior Julie Masonheimer moved over from her outside hitting spot to fill the vital role as the team’s setter.
“I thought she did a terrific job,” Fant said “It’s a little bit like in football asking your linebacker to move to quarterback. She had never played setter before, but she handled it really well.”
Newnan stayed in the match with Northgate by also getting help from Kayla Price, Maggie Darracott and Allison Cash.
“I don’t think the county has ever been this close,” Fant said. “I think it says Coweta County is up and coming in volleyball.”
With the victory over Newnan, Northgate was able to avenge a loss between the two teams at an early-season tournament.
“Coach Fant always has them ready to play against us,” Trucks said. “They blew us out at the start of the year, and who knows what would have happened if their setter at been in there. They are a really good team, and you have to be ready for them.” Trucks said he knew this was going to be a really competitive event.
“All three of these teams are really good,” he said. If Newnan doesn’t lose its setter, things could have been a whole lot different. That has been the goal the whole for the last couple of year to make volleyball more competitive in the county. It not so much about volleyball tonight, it was about pride, and that is what you saw tonight, kids fighting for every point.”
In the final match of the night, East Coweta won 25-16, 25-13 against rival Newnan.
The match also counts in the Area 2-AAAAAA standings as the No. 6 state-ranked Lady Indians improved to 17-4 overall and 2-0 in league play. Newnan dropped to 12-6 and 2-1.
Northgate, which is state ranked in Class AAAAA, is 14-13 overall.