Someone once said, “It's playoff time. If we don't do it now, we won't do it.”
On Tuesday, the White County volleyball did it, pulling off a first round upset and putting themselves in a position to earn a spot in the Class AAAA playoffs.
The Lady Warriors, the No. 6 seed heading into the tournament, knocked off No. 3 Denmark in a first round match at Marist, winning the final two sets of the match for a 2-1 win. Denmark posted a 25-13 win in the opening set, but the Lady Warriors righted the ship, tying the match with a 25-17 win in the second set and then took the deciding set by a 15-9 margin. The win avenged a 2-0 regular season loss to the Danes. The Lady Warriors pushed their record to 20-13 on the year, their second consecutive 20-win season.
“I am so proud of our girls and how well they played,” WCHS head coach Shannon Smith said. “We had a few first game jitters in the first set, but we quickly redeemed ourselves. The girls truly worked together as a team to pull together all of the hard work and effort from our hours of practice.”
The Lady Warriors dropped a 2-0 decision to No. 2 seed Marist later Tuesday and need a win this afternoon to punch their ticket to the state tournament.
WCHS takes on Chestatee at 5 p.m. at Blessed Trinity in Roswell. Chestatee suffered a first round loss to West Hall on Tuesday to bounce into the consolation bracket. West Hall and Denmark also play in a consolation bracket match at 5 p.m., with the two winners earning a state berth and a chance to play in the third-place game at 6 p.m.
Blessed Trinity, the top seed, and Marist have secured spots in the region championship match, which will be played today at 6 p.m.
Blessed Trinity and Marist are ranked No. 2 and 3, respectively, in the latest Class AAAA state poll.
In the win over Denmark, senior hitter Hope Thomas paced the offensive attack with six kills and two blocks, while junior Jenna Ash had three kills and junior Dasha Cannon had two kills and a block assist.
“We had some incredible plays that I can't wait to see on film,” Smith said. “Jenna literally dove for a ball and made a miraculous save. Dasha was all over the court digging the ball really well, and our setters, Jenna and Kylie Johnson worked.”
In the winner bracket semifinal match against Marist, the Lady Warriors kept pace with state-ranked War Eagles, including grabbing the lead in the second set, before eventually falling by a 2-0 score (25-17, 25-17).
“We were leading the majority of the time in the second set,” Smith. “ The Marist coach even said, 'Your girls played with heart tonight.' I am so proud of how well they played. Honestly, tonight we saw the team that we have been grooming all season. Our girls played with true tenacity and fire. I could not be more proud. We played our best games tonight.”
Ash finished with six kills, eight block assists, and three digs, while Thomas had 10 block assists and two kills. Cannon had four blocks assists and three kills, while Kendall Pardue had five digs.