The sport of volleyball has always been strong in the northwest corner of the state and more proof of that was offered up on Tuesday as a pair of Walker County teams played in the GHSA Final Four in their respective classifications.
Gordon Lee traveled to Jonesboro to face Elite Scholars Academy in the Class A/AA Public School state semifinals, while a few miles back up the road in Atlanta, LaFayette tested itself against highly-regarded St. Pius X in the Class 4A state semifinals.
Unfortunately for supporters of both the Lady Trojans and the Lady Ramblers, the 2019 season is now officially in the books.
Both teams put up solid efforts against outstanding opposition, but in the end, the home teams just had too much firepower.
Gordon Lee, who lost to eventual state champion Coosa in the Final Four a year ago, battled the team that the Lady Eagles defeated in the 2018 championship match and fell by scores of 25-18, 25-23 and 25-16.
Brooklyn Hudson had 14 kills to pace the Lady Trojans (34-6). Emoree Rogers served up 13 assists and added six kills. Madison Mayberry had 16 digs and Sally Thomison and finished with eight digs.
ESA will advance to Saturday's state final at McEachern High School where they will once again take on Coosa, who defeated Rabun County, three sets to none, in the other state semifinal on Tuesday.
Gordon Lee also announced that Hudson, Mayberry, Arilyn Lee and M.K. Roberts have been selected to the All-State team in the classification.
Meanwhile, the Lady Ramblers put up a fight against the top-ranked defending champions. However, the Golden Lions ended LaFayette's season with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-14 victory.
"Our main goal tonight was to come out and compete," LaFayette head coach Chris Logan said. "We didn't want to be the 'just get out there and have fun team'. We wanted to win or go down swinging. I feel like the girls did that and I can't ask for more."
Jillian Morgan had five kills and three blocks and Gracie Stier had four kills and seven digs in their final game in Orange-and-Black.
"We have had two very special seniors this year," Logan continued. "They combined for at least 2,100 (career) kills and both will be playing college ball next year. You couldn't ask for two better kids. They have both started since they were freshmen, but they both have put so much work into their games. I hope the younger players see that and continue what these two have helped start."
Colby Charland had 16 assists and nine digs. Sarah Ray had four kills and one ace, while Kloe Ludy had six digs, one kill and one ace. Imani Cook finished with a kill and two blocks. Markella Johnson had two digs and one kill. Daisy Felipe finished with five digs and Alex Wysong rounded out the stat sheet with two digs.
St. Pius X will look to defend its state title on Saturday at Marietta High School when they take on Blessed Trinity in an all-private school final. Blessed Trinity took down another public school contender in Sandy Creek, three sets to none, in Tuesday night's other semifinal.
LaFayette's season ended with a school-record for wins (48-6).
"Our goal this year was to win the region, make a run deep in the playoffs and get a matchup with a Blessed Trinity, a St. Pius, or a Marist and compete," Logan added. "We completely met our goals for the year."