Something awoke in the Coosa volleyball team last Wednesday. And it doesn’t appear to be returning to its slumber any time soon.
The Lady Eagles’ level of play in their near-flawless victory in the Class AA/A Public Sweet 16 provided the blueprint for the two-time state champions to defeat previously unbeaten Woodville-Tompkins on Saturday and earn a spot in the Final Four.
“We knew we had to come out and just play our game. Our girls didn’t get caught up in them being undefeated. The girls came out and knew we had to play Coosa volleyball, and that’s exactly what we did,” Coosa coach Nic Hann said.
“We had lots of energy. We had lots of intensity. So we just saw Wednesday night replicated today. We came in and saw the same things that worked.”
What worked was top-ranked Coosa’s revamped serving game and focus on directional hitting that led the host team to a three-set sweep of the visiting Lady Wolverines, 25-7, 25-9, 25-11.
While No. 3 Woodville-Tompkins brought plenty of power behind their attacks at the net, the Lady Eagles countered and minimized the damage.
“We knew that they had some hitters that could put it down so we really worked on how to transition and prepare for those, how to pass those kind of balls, because we hadn’t necessarily seen that a lot recently,” Hann said. “So the girls again just took what we did the last two days of practice and applied it today.”
Jordan Roberts led Coosa with 10 aces in the match while also recording eight kills and five digs. Kasey Thacker had a team-high 11 kills to go with two digs and an ace, while Brinley Smith finished with 28 assists, two aces and a kill.
“I was expecting us to play well, but I was a little worried with an undefeated team coming in,” Smith said. “They’ve had a really good season. But I was also confident because I know what we can do and what we’re capable of. It was honestly unreal. We were prepared for it to be a tough, close game, but it was an amazing feeling.”
Coosa’s Ashlee Bailey opened the match with back-to-back kills, and by the time the team from Savannah were able to recover they were down 21-6 in the first set. The Lady Eagles kept the pressure on from there.
“It’s finally shown us what we’ve known all along we could do and we really haven’t seen it all season,” Hann said. “Now we’ve seen it two matches in a row and we hope we can continue that.”
Bailey had five kills and two digs, while Jenna Reynolds finished with four digs, three aces and two assists. Roberts, Thacker, Smith, Bailey and Reynolds are five of the seven seniors on the team, which now prepares for its fourth straight trip to the state semifinals.
However, it will be the first Final Four not played at Coosa.
Rabun County defeated Dade County in four sets Saturday to set up Tuesday’s match between Coosa and the Lady Wildcats. Since both teams are area champions and the same seed, the decision on hosting was determined by a universal coin toss by the GHSA.
The result was the team on the top part of the bracket hosts when like seeds meet, giving Rabun County the honors in the case of the semifinals.
“I just think we have to keep practicing hard like we have been and focus on ourselves, not on our opponents or where we’re going to be playing,” Smith said. “Because no matter where we play we still have to play our game.”