The Pepperell volleyball team gave their opponent a battle in the GHSA Class AA/A Public quarterfinals on Saturday, but in the end it wasn’t enough to get to the next round.

The Lady Dragons topped Elite Scholars Academy in the first set of their Elite Eight match in Jonesboro and played the host team close the rest of the afternoon but lost in four sets to end Pepperell’s season.

“They did really well. We took the first set and I felt really good about it. We played really well and was swinging at the ball, and that’s what it really came down to,” Pepperell coach Lee Donahue said. “In the first set we had a lot of hits and threw them off their game. But later on in the last three sets we just weren’t able to capitalize off of that.”

No. 5 Pepperell won the first set 25-23, handing the host team its first set loss in this year’s state playoffs. The 2018 state runners-up then fought back and won the next three sets, 25-17, 25-20 and 25-18.

Junior Eva Ellenburg had eight kills, two aces and three blocks for the Lady Dragons, while senior captains Kinsey Wright and Mattie Blalock both had solid performances. Wright finished with six kills and an ace, while Blalock had five kills, two blocks, and an ace.

Pepperell (29-14) ends the season with the most wins in program history as well as its best showing in the state playoffs, something that has been spurred on by this season’s group of six seniors.

“They are the group that first got us to state as sophomores and they’ve done great at helping build our program at Pepperell and getting kids involved,” Donahue said. “Before this group, we really had low numbers, but since they started our numbers have grown and they’ve been the face of the program.”

Elite Scholars Academy (36-10) will host Gordon Lee in the state semifinals on Tuesday with the winner advancing to take on the winner between Coosa and Rabun County in the state championship on Saturday.

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