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PREP VOLLEYBALL: Coosa defeats Armuchee for a spot in the state title game

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Facing an opponent from so close nearby and a game away from returning to the Class AA state championship match, Coosa’s volleyball team had plenty to drive them.

The Lady Eagles took the wheel early and got on the final path to handle some unfinished business.

Coosa controlled its match Wednesday against Armuchee from the start, trailed only once in three sets and rode the energy of a lively Eagles Nest to claim a 3-0 sweep over the Lady Indians in the Class AA state semifinals, 25-9, 25-9, 25-12.

“From the moment they got in the gym, our girls were relaxed and ready,” Coosa coach Nic Hann said. “We were calm and ready to go, and that’s what we’ve talked about. As long as we worry about us, we can come out here and play our game.”

Coosa’s win, coupled with St. Vincent’s Academy’s victory over Chattooga, means a rematch of last season’s Class AA state championship game between the Lady Eagles and the Saints will be held Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta.

Last year saw Coosa challenge the private school team from Savannah, but fall in three sets.

While the team never overlooked an opponent, it’s always known where it wants to be at the end of the season. Now that the Lady Eagles are finally here, the excitement can be felt by everyone.

“Getting back to Atlanta feels fantastic, I just love it so much,” Coosa senior Taylor Roberts said. “It’s a great feeling to know that we can do it, and we can finish what we started.”

Roberts led the Lady Eagles with 11 kills, six aces and five digs, while Kasey Thacker had seven kills and 10 digs. Deb Barker led the team with 14 digs and Brinley Smith recorded 32 assists and eight aces.

Armuchee’s Brette Bata had two kills while Victoria Pierce contributed two assists as the Lady Indians challenged on occasion but couldn’t keep up the momentum. It is the fifth time this season Coosa has swept its Area 3-AA foe.

The Lady Eagles (48-7) were always ready to make the necessary passing to set up Thacker or Roberts with the big hit. Armuchee coach Clint Decker said his team could only do so much to stop Coosa’s hitters, so his concerns were with the lack of passing.

“Coosa played a good game, but I feel like we really killed ourselves in some stretches,” said Decker, who led the Lady Indians to the most successful season in program history. “The further we get away from this game, the more we’ll be able to see how special this season was.”

The Lady Indians (24-16) made a few rallies to try and get back into the first set after Coosa scored 10 of the first 11 points, but it didn’t pan out. Whenever momentum even slightly tilted the other way, Coosa was ready to regroup and figure out how to finish the set.

“Taylor did a good job whenever Armuchee started to make a run,” Hann said. “She would just get the group together and say, ‘Hey, relax we just need one pass.’ That just attributed to her leadership on the team.”

The second set started a bit closer as Armuchee scored the opening point and tied it at 5-all. But a 15-1 run from Coosa put the home team back in control and led to another cruising win.

Armuchee scored its most points in the final set, but Coosa maintained the advantage throughout. Up only 14-10, the Lady Eagles went on an 11-2 run to close the match, with Roberts and Thacker leading the way.