High School Volleyball
Lady Vikings reach GHSA Final 4
by Doug Gorman
FAYETTEVILLE—The Northgate Lady Vikings volleyball team advanced to the Class AAAAA Final Four Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Whitewater (21-25, 25-21, 25-12 25-19).
It’s just the second time in school history the Lady Vikings have made it this far.
There were no secrets between Northgate and Whitewater, who both play in Region 4-AAAAA.
Northgate won the two regular season meetings between the teams, with Whitewater beating the Lady Vikings twice at the region tournament.
Northgate (30-25) now moves on to face another familiar region foe Wednesday, when it travels to McIntosh (39-6). The Lady Chiefs swept Greenville to punch their ticket to the Final Four.
The starting time for the match will be announced early this week.
“When I saw the draw, I knew we had to go through Whitewater and McIntosh, so you know this time of year to be the best you have to beat the best,” Northgate head coach Matt Trucks said. “McIntosh is the best. They are the cream of the crop. We knew we are going to have to face them if we got far enough, so now let’s play.”
After advancing to the Final Four, the careers of seniors Randee Harvel, Erin Valentine and Michella Crooks have been extended.
“It feels great to be going to the Final Four,” Valentine said. “We were confident we could take it, and we went out and proved it. We knew it meant so much. We came out and played really hard.”
Crooks thinks playing against the tough competition the Lady Vikings see in Region 4-AAAAA has only made them better.
“We always face tough teams, but as long as we fight hard, we feel like we have a chance,” Crooks said.
The Lady Vikings were in Saturday’s Final Four for the fourth time in five years after beating Lithia Springs and Houston County. Whitewater knocked off Clarke Central and Creekview to set up the fifth meeting this year between the two region rivals.
Northgate had to rally against Whitewater after dropping the first set. The Lady Wildcats overcame a four-point deficit to win the first match, but from there, the Lady Vikings won three straight sets.
After six ties early in the second set, Northgate took the lead at 9-8 and never trailed again.
From there, Northgate pretty much dominated the final two sets pushing out to a 16-6 lead in the three set. The Lady Wildcats cut the margin to nine twice late in the match, but couldn’t get any closer.
The Lady Vikings built the early lead in the final set to close out the match with the six-point victory.
Northgate was paced by Randee Harvel who led the team with 25 kills and 10 digs.
Brenda Robertson finished the match with blocks. Kalie Whiddon finished the four-set match with 17 assists.
Harvel realized the team had a chance to advance after winning the second set.
“I just really thought we would take it,” she said. “Getting to the Final Four has been our goal all year.”
Trucks new after splitting the four matches with Whitewater earlier this year his team was going to face a challenge.
“They are a good team,” Trucks said. “We prepared for five matches. We respect them that much. “
Trucks said his team fed off the spirited group of Northgate fans who made the short trip across the county line.
“The fans that did come yelled and cheered,” he said. “I know it gets expensive at tournament time, but we appreciate the support.”