But when the final match point was made, Coosa once again stood at the top.
The Lady Eagles survived scares from both Armuchee and Pepperell on their home court Saturday and won their fifth straight area championship, knocking off the Lady Dragons in the finals 25-12, 25-21, 25-23.
Coosa will carry the area’s No. 1 seed into the Class A/AA Public state playoffs when they begin next Saturday, Oct. 20. Pepperell earns the No. 2 seed while Armuchee is third and Model fourth.
“Every year is different with a different team, but it still feels great to be No. 1, especially to not have to travel to who-knows-where for the first round,” Coosa coach Nic Hann said. “We found ways to win today. Armuchee and Pepperell both came out firing on all cylinders. We struggled at times, but we still somehow found a way to pull it out.”
Coosa (33-9) began with a loss in the first set of its match against Armuchee as the Lady Indians won 25-21 and never gave up as the Lady Eagles were forced to push for 25-21, 25-23 wins in the next two sets before closing out with a 25-16 set win.
Coosa junior middle blocker Kasey Thacker was named the area Player of the Year by the league’s coaches, while teammates Debra Barker, Brinley Smith, Gracie Shumate and Jordan Roberts were placed on the all-area team.
All matches were a best-of-five format, and Pepperell coach Lee Donahue said that while that was a factor he knows his team played well throughout.
“The main thing was we had to clean up the passing. If we had done that I think we would have been in better shape,” he said. “But I think overall, for the day, they played really well. The two seed coming out of the tournament is the highest Pepperell has ever been, so we’re excited about that. We’ll see where we end up next Saturday.”
Pepperell had the lead late in the final two sets against Coosa, including being up 23-20 in the third set. Thacker got a block to return possession to the Lady Eagles, and a pair of kills by Roberts helped Coosa earn the last five points to get the win.
“We were losing our energy,” Hann said. “I told them we are successful when you are excited and opening your mouth and have lots of energy. And toward the end the last two sets, that’s when they brought that energy back.”
The Lady Dragons (23-14) came into the tournament as the No. 3 seed but beat No. 2-seed Model 25-18, 25-5, 25-12 in their opening match to earn a spot in the championship. Eva Ellenburg, Mattie Blalock and Maggie Bagwell were named to the all-area team from Pepperell.
Armuchee (13-15) came back from a set down against Model in the consolation final Saturday and won 12-25, 28-26, 25-23 and 25-15. The Lady Indians played the most of any team at the tournament, starting with a three-set win in a 4-vs.-5 matchup against Rockmart.
“Our girls were tired, and you could feel our momentum was dropping as we went on,” Armuchee coach Teresa Yandell said. “But they kept encouraging each other, our fans kept encouraging them, and we came back in the end. They just kept fighting.”
Brette Bata and Bridgette Jones represented Armuchee on the all-area team, while Model players Brooke Roberts and Maggie Jon White joined them. Also named to the all-area team were Rockmart’s Landra Jones and Georgia School for the Deaf’s Zariah Clay.