The tale of two Floyd County volleyball teams pushing themselves set after set to achieve new heights for their respective programs gets a grand finale tonight.
On one side, the scrappy bunch from Armuchee High School that has found strength and focus to give the Lady Indians their first state playoff wins in school history.
The other side consists of the Lady Eagles of Coosa High School, a year removed from falling just short of a state championship after a loss in the Class AA title match.
Now they meet for the fifth time this season in the AA state semifinals with a spot in Saturday’s state championship match on the line. Tonight’s contest begins at 6 p.m. on Coosa’s home court.
“From the beginning, we knew the road to the Final Four, the opportunity to play Coosa in the Final Four, was there, and it’s worked out like a story,” Armuchee coach Clint Decker said. “We kind of came into this season with a good idea about where we felt like we stood, and it was second best to Coosa. But we felt that with the improvements we could make and the specific matchups we would see that we could beat them.”
It’s been all Coosa so far this season when the two Area 3-AA have faced off. The Lady Eagles (47-7) have not dropped a set in the four meetings with the Lady Indians, including the area championship match. Armuchee (24-15) defeated No. 2 seed Chattooga twice in the area tournament to get to the finals.
“We know Armuchee is really scrappy and they get a lot of stuff up, so we’ve just got to make sure we’re executing well,” Coosa coach Nic Hann said. “We’ve just got to stay relaxed and loose and just play our game.”
The Lady Eagles have swept their first two playoff opponents, KIPP Charter and Jordan, while Armuchee opened the state bracket with a 3-0 sweep of Washington before handling Westside-Augusta 3-1 in last Saturday’s quarterfinals.
“I don’t know if it’s really set in for the girls what they’ve accomplished. They just seem to be playing their best ball of the season in these last two matches,” Decker said.
Finishing fourth at area last year really stuck with Decker and his team, who felt like they had the talent then to make a deep run in the playoffs but were paired with eventual state champion St. Vincent’s in the first round, where they were defeated.
The familiarity between the two teams extends beyond the court, but each one is focusing on the task at hand.
“We’re just approaching it like we’re at some random tournament like in Atlanta and didn’t know who they were. We’re just trying to look at it like they’re people,” Armuchee senior captain BrandyAnn Wacker said. “We’ve just got to get into this mindset of pass, set and hit for every point, just one point at a time, and passing is what’s going to keep us in this game.”
“They’re all friends and know each other, but when we come out we know we’ve got to take care of business and worry about us,” Hann said. “So for that hour or two hours that we play, we’re opponents. And then afterwards they can be friends again. We’ve just got to come out and be ready to play our game.”