Trinity Christian wins GISA state volleyball title


Trinity Christian volleyball players join head coach Joe Camp, far left, and assistant Julie Bigler, far right, in celebrating this year’s GISA state championship, the first ever for the program.

By CHRIS GOLTERMANN After a season of trading six wins between one another, Trinity Christian's volleyball team got a chance to settle the score and its rivalry with Calvary Christian once and for on the grandest stage the Georgia Independent Schools Association could offer Saturday. In just their third year of play in the GISA, the Lady Lions volleyball program captured its first-ever state championship, sweeping No. 2 state-ranked Calvary 25-23, 25-17, 25-17 to capture the title at Mount Vernon Presbyterian in Atlanta.
Three years ago, Trinity won just five matches. But on Saturday, second-year head coach Joe Camp's lineup -- consisting of just one senior, 2010 All-County player Sam Mizzell -- wrapped up a 37-4 record with four consecutive wins over the two-day, single-elimination event. "Our defense was sensational. We really played like there was no tomorrow," said Camp, whose team set the tone with a comeback win in game one of the finals. "The win over Calvary was a real team effort, with everyone giving their best and fighting for every point. I'm very proud of them all." Entering this weekend, neither lineup had lost to another GISA opponent, with Trinity Christian's only other loss this year coming out of state against Grace Christian of Knoxville. Calvary carried the early momentum in the final meeting between rivals, taking a 22-18 lead in game one, only to see the Lady Lions respond for seven of the last eight points. "The difference in the match was our commitment passing and defense," Camp said. " "Both teams served aggressively and played great defense, we had a little more success scoring from serves than they did." Trinity finished with 15 aces in the state final compared to Calvary's 3 and also had a better passing average (2.36-1.69 out of possible 3.0). It helped the Lady Lions build early leads in the final two games while forcing Calvary out of its offensive sets. Ashton Bigler led the team with four service aces, while Madison Farr, Alex Huber and Mizzell had three each. On the defensive side, Bigler finished with a team-high 12 digs and Rachel Lyons and Alex Huber added 11 and 8, respecively. Micayla Patterson had 21 assists and Elissa Waldrop finished with 9 kills and 2 blocks at middle hitter. The GISA offers just one classification for volleyball teams, regardless of size. During the year, the Lady Lions also reached the finals of three tournaments, winning two titles. Last weekend, Trinity defeated Dominion Christian, Augusta Prep and a surprising Christian Heritage team to reach the finals against Calvary in the seventh meeting between schools this season. On Friday, the Lady Lions opened the tournament with a convincing 25-15, 25-12, 25-13 victory over Dominion, led by Bigler's 10 kills and four aces. Elissa Waldrop had 8 kills and 3 service aces, while Micayla Patterson contributed 21 assists and 5 service aces. The Lady Lions had 18 service aces and a 2.41 passing average for the match "Dominion plays very scrappy defense and has been a challenging opponent for us this season," Camp said. "We passed exceptionally well and put a great deal of pressure on them with aggressive serving". Trinity then reached the Elite 8 by avenging last year's state playoff loss to Augusta Prep. A strong attack and impressive blocking led the Lady Lions to a 25-16, 25-19, 25-14 victory led by Waldrop's 10 kills and 3.5 blocks. Natalie Sisler added 6 kills and 3 blocks with Mizzell, Lyons, and Bigler all finishing with a passing average above 2.4. Mizzell and Lyons finished with 7 and 7 digs, respectively. Advancing to the state semifinals, Trinity dominated a surprising Christian Heritage team 25-10, 25-17, and 25-12, using aggressive serving and a strong attack. Playing at right side hitter, Mizzell finished with four service aces and 3 kills, while Waldrop (8 kills), Sisler (7 kills) and Bigler (6 kills) led the offense. Patterson led the defensive effort with 11 digs and 24 assists. Nine players had at least 1 kill, with all 12 Lady Lions seeing playing time. It was the second consecutive 30-win season for Trinity, which loses just one player from the 2011 lineup to graduation.

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