Bartholomew led most successful season in Coweta history
by Doug Gorman and Chris Goltermann
Two trips to the Sweet 16, a pair of Final Four appearances and one mighty three-peat defined arguably the best high school volleyball season Coweta County has seen yet.
It was equally led by a player who may go down in history as one of the most talented to ever take a varsity court here. And she's still not done yet.
Five programs reached the state playoffs - all advancing to at least the quarterfinal round. Leading the way was Trinity Christian's undefeated Class AAA state champions, which capped off a 27-0 season and the program's third-straight GISA title.
Northgate equally came through at the right time during a 30-26 season, winning five of its last seven matches while reaching the Class AAAAA State Semifinals before losing to eventual GHSA champion and area rival McIntosh (42-6).
It came in longtime head coach Matt Trucks' final season, announcing at the team's recent postseason banquet that he was ready to pass the torch of a successful program.
'It has been great,' said Trucks, who continues to coach varsity girls basketball. 'It was not an easy decision, but the program is in good hands.'
Trucks said he was proud of the way the Vikings battled to the end.
'We never quit,' he said. 'We never stopped, and that's what I take from this.
In its first season under new coach Amber McClure East Coweta, meanwhile, set a program record with 43 victories en route to the Class AAAAAA Sweet 16.
'We really feel like we put East Coweta volleyball on the map,' said McClure of her team's accolades, which in addition to a second consecutive Coweta County championship had the team ranked in the Top-10 in Class AAAAAA for most of the season.
Joining the Lady Indians out of Area 2-AAAAAA was Newnan, which improved on the previous year's record for the second straight season while finishing 25-13. And The Heritage School's fledgling program equally took wings by advancing all the way to the GISA Class AAA Final Four before falling to eventual champion and cross-county rival Trinity.
All-in-all, it made for some tough decisions when it came to selecting this year's Newnan Times Herald All-County Volleyball team.
But when it came to picking the 2013 Player of the Year, we went to a reliable source.
East Coweta junior Jessi Bartholomew captured those honors for the second time in her career while being named to her third straight All-County team while among Class AAAAAA leaders in most offensive categories.
'She means so much to our team,' said firstyear coach Amber McClure earlier in the season. 'She is really a special player.'
Bartholomew helped lead her team to a school record 43-7 record. Bartholomew finished with 529 kills, 232 aces, 46 assists and 167 assists.
The 43 wins for East Coweta were the most in school history.
'Everybody really bought into what we were trying to accomplish this year,' McClure said after her team was knocked out of the second round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs by South Forsyth.
East Coweta senior teammate Sydney Mauer joined Bartholomew on the first team with 980 assists, 118 aces and 137 digs.
Newnan senior middle blocker and setter Julie Masonheimer made her appearance on the first team with 333 assists, 110 digs, and 99 kills in addition to her unselfish play. Masonheimer led her team to a 25-16 record including a win over Peachtree Ridge in the first-round of the Class AAAAAA tournament.
The Lady Cougars' season took a hit when Tiffany Maes went down with an injury, but Masonheimer showed her senior leadership with clutch play down the stretch when she moved from outside hitter to setter.
'She had really never played the position before,' Newnan head coach Leslie Fant said shortly after Maes was lost for the year. 'She did a great job moving over and playing in a spot she wasn't that familiar with.'
Northgate advanced to the Class AAAAA Final Four for the second time in school history with a 30-26 record.
The Lady Vikings beat Lithia Springs, Houston County, and Whitewater before getting swept 3-0 by the Lady Chiefs to end the season.
Randee Harvel and Savannah Moore earned a spot on the first team for the Lady Vikings in Trucks final season as head coach.
Harvel finished with 435 kills, 76 aces and 200 digs. Moore had 200 kills and 32 aces.
Trinity's Jordan Jones and Cheyenne Hayes made firstteam honors after leading the Lady Lions to the GISA state title. Both earned All-State honors as well under the guidance of Trinity coach Joe Camp.
'The first one here was special. But this one had a very different feeling for me cause it felt the most satisfying,' Camp told the paper after the Lady Lions captured their third straight GISA title this fall.
Jordan finished the year with 720 assists, 74 aces and 172 digs.
Area rivals East Coweta and Newnan each landed two players on the All-County Second Team, which also included Northgate senior Michaella Crooks and Trinity Christian All-State senior Alex Huber.
Newnan junior Maggie Darracott and East Coweta senior Savannah Freeman were the defensive stalwarts for respective lineups at the libero position in the back row. Darracott finished with 165 blocks and 25 aces while Freeman added 223 digs and 28 assists.
Lady Cougar sophomore Jenny Young finished with an impressive 236 kills as one of two 10th graders on the second team with East Coweta's Dominique Ingram. In the middle of the front line, Ingram posted 83 blocks to go with her 159 kills.
The 6-foot-4 Crooks made things equally tough for opposing offenses from her middle blocker spot, finishing with 131 kills and 95 ½ blocks.
Huber, who recently signed with Kennesaw State, was a force at outside hitter, looming much larger than a 5-4 frame in her senior season while finishing with 186 kills and 63 aces.
'Alex has a tremendous combination of leadership, competitiveness and work ethic,' Camp said. 'She is a quiet leader, who leads by example. Her competitiveness is tempered with a deep concern for her teammates. The fact that she finished in the top five of 3 different school records is a tribute to her overall ability and hard work.'
Lady Lions senior Natalie Sisler represented the program on the All-County Third Team. The senior right-side hitter had 132 kills and 48 aces in her final varsity season.
The Heritage School gained Camp's respect in its second year of varsity play, with the Lady Hawks garnering two players on this year's All-County Third Team. Both sophomore outside hitter Karlee Groover and freshman setter Hallie Hunt earned All-State honors following a trip to the GISA Class AAA Final Four.
Northgate also garnered two players on the Third Team, both of which expect to be returning next season. Sophomore setter Taylor Bigler finished with 461 assists and 88 digs while junior Kalie Whiddon posted 111 kills and 48 aces for the Lady Vikings.
Another underclassman, Newnan junior Allison Cash had a team-high 48 aces for the Lady Cougars and 54 digs, but also was equally well rounded at the middle hitter position with her team's highest hitting percentage.