POWDER SPRINGS — Nerves shot and emotions overflowing, Kasey Thacker looked up from the celebratory dog pile and let out a burst of joy and relief.
What had begun earlier that afternoon with a stab at the Coosa volleyball players’ skill was now finished as a monument to what their talent, fight and heart had accomplished. And it took a record showing to make it happen.
Coosa came back from down two sets to one Saturday in the Class AA/A Public state championship match to win the final two sets in an all-out battle against Elite Scholars Academy that gave the Lady Eagles their third state title in a row and made them the winningest team in program history.
“Best feeling in the world. It’s great,” Thacker said.
Elite made Coosa work for every point and had revenge in mind after losing to the Lady Eagles in the state finals last year.
“We’ve practiced mental stability and staying tough during those points,” Thacker said. “Obviously we’ve played a lot of big matches this year. So we knew how to push through and not give up because we were not losing that game.”
“I don’t even know what to think right now. I’m just so excited,” Coosa’s Jordan Roberts said shortly after the match. “It’s just such an indescribable feeling doing it three times, and doing it with your best friends makes it even better. It makes me feel even better about how close we were. Because it’s one thing to be on a team and your state champions, but it’s another thing if you’re best friends on a team and you’re state champions. It’s a whole different story.”
Roberts is one of seven seniors on the team, most of whom have been a part of Coosa’s last two state championships, as well as playing for a state championship and finishing as runners-up as freshmen.
“We knew these girls had it in them and we knew we were up for a challenge,” Coosa coach Nic Hann said. “But as I’ve said before, not many kids get to compete for one state title, and these seniors competed for four and won three of them. So for that to even be on their resume is huge.”
Thacker, one of the team’s senior middle blockers, broke her own school record for most kills in a single match with 24, senior setter Brinley Smith found the right formula to record her 4,000th career assist, and junior libero Makayla Nelson broke the school record for digs in a match with 29.
Roberts finished with 14 kills, 10 digs and two aces, while Ashlee Bailey had 10 kills and three digs. Thacker also had 14 digs, five aces and four blocks.
Coosa was shaken after losing it’s first set in the postseason to start the match, 25-15. The Lady Eagles regrouped to take the next set 25-20 before Elite Scholars Academy closed out the third set on an 11-2 run to win 25-22.
It took two more comebacks for Coosa to come back from the brink of ending their season short of their ultimate goal.
Down 17-15 in the fourth set, the Lady Eagles found their passing game and attacked the net to go on a 10-4 run and win 25-21. The Lady Royal Knights then led the fifth and final set 13-10 and had match point three different times, but Coosa never backed down and strung the three final points together to win 18-16 and take the state title.
“I don’t even think I have any nerves left at this point,” Hann said. “But what does that say about our girls? To go down the way we went down in the first set, come back, go down again, come back and be down four points at the start of the final set and come back. We knew these girls had the skill, but today we got to see how much heart they really have.”
The final point came when Nelson’s serve was mis-played by an Elite Scholars player on the return and veered off to the side and out of bounds with no Elite player able to reach it.
“They were literally one point away from winning it all and taking that title from us. We just kept fighting through it,” Smith said. “And seeing that ball drop was, it was a feeling you can’t describe. Just being able to hug my teammates afterward knowing that we gave everything we had and came out with what we deserved.”
The win makes Coosa’s final record 50-7 for the season, setting the program mark for most wins in a season. Smith, meanwhile, set not just the school record but the state record for most assists in a single season with 1,462.