Prep Volleyball: East Coweta captures area championshipBy DOUG GORMAN
LOCUST GROVE — The East Coweta Lady Indians are headed back to the state tournament on quite a roll.
East Coweta breezed to an Area 2-AAAAAA championship without even losing a game.
“I am really excited by the way we played,” said East Coweta head coach Dena Taylor. “We wanted to play Newnan in the finals and were able to do that and beat them.”
Newnan took the long path into the finals after losing to Luella in a winner’s bracket game to start Saturday’s action.
The Lady Cougars were simply out of gas by the time they faced East Coweta in the finals.
Both teams, however, managed to earn first-round matches when the Class AAAAAA state tournament begins on Thursday.
“I am really proud of the way we fought back,” said Newnan coach Leslie Fant.
East Coweta stayed in the winners’ bracket of the Area 2-AAAAAA volleyball tournament Saturday with an easy win over Lovejoy in their first match of the day.
The top-seed Lady Indians won the first game 25-10 and took care of business in the second contest with the Lady Lions 25-9.
With the victory, East Coweta officially earned its spot in next week’s Class AAAAAA tournament.
The expected winner’s bracket showdown with second-seed Newnan and East Coweta never materialized as the Lady Cougars were upset by Luella in a three-game slugfest early Saturday knocking Newnan into the loser’s bracket and forcing them to win three times before finally setting up the match with the Lady Indians.
The Lady Cougars won the first game against the Lady Lions 25-20, 20-25 before falling in the third and deciding game 25-19.
Newnan never led in the third contest with Luella.
Trailing 16-11, Newnan mounted a comeback against the Lady Lions by tying the match at 16, but the Lady Cougars were outscored 9-3 down the stretch.
The loss forced Newnan to play right away against Westlake.
This time, the Lady Cougars played with a sense of urgency, beating Westlake 25-13 and 25-17.
The Westlake victory also punched Newnan’s ticket to the state tournament.
Newnan set up its rematch with Luella in the winners bracket with a 25-16, 25-16 victory over the Lady Lions.
In the rematch with the Lady Lions, Newnan played one of the most competitive matches of the day, beating Luella 26-24 in the first game before rolling in the second game 25-12.
Newnan pulled away behind the play of Mimi Yancey, Allison Cash and Julie Masonheimer.
One match earlier, Luella lost to the Lady Indians 25-9, 25-19.
The victory over Luella put East Coweta in the championship round.
East Coweta was paced throughout the day by Jessi Bartholomew, who came up with several big kills.
“We just have to keep playing as a team and stay focused,” Bartholomew said.
East Coweta goes into the state tournament after winning four matches in a row.
A year ago, the Lady Indians made some noise during the state tournament, pulling off upsets in the first two rounds with wins over Woodstock and Parkview.
Sydney Mauer expects East Coweta will again have a bullseye on its back.
“We are going to have to have some hard practices and keep up the energy level,” she said.
Senior Lexy Zelczak knows this is her last chance to bring home a state volleyball title.
“We just have to come out and play like we know we can, and I think she can make a run.”