The Calhoun and Sonoraville High School volleyball teams will start the postseason Tuesday.
Both have closed the regular season, finished their Regional tournaments, and now each is looking for a deep playoff run with the first step to that being taken on Tuesday.
As of Thursday, exactly who, when, and where each of them will be playing was still unknown but both teams will be ready Tuesday as soon as the ball goes in the air.
When the Yellow Jackets began the season back in August, head coach Nick Hann just wanted to see his young players get better and improve as a group with each passing day and each passing match.
And that is exactly what has happened with Calhoun becoming a formidable group that has high expectations going into the upcoming elimination rounds.
Just one year removed from a trip to the Elite Eight, the Yellow Jackets are hoping this season to go at least that far, if not further, in the next three weeks.
It’s difficult to say Calhoun still has a young team because the girls have played 45 matches this year and they have seen all types of teams, which is just what coach Hann was hoping to expose his girls to when the season begin.
Some have had great servers. Some have had huge front lines at the net. Some have had the strength of their team in the back row.
But just about everyone the Jackets have played is really good with the idea being to make sure the girls are ready to play at peak performance come late to mid-October, which is where the season is now headed.
Statistically speaking, the white-and-gold have some of the top number earners in Northwest Georgia and now they are hoping those players rise to each occasion about to be in front of them.
Senior middle blocker Dora Moore, junior outside hitter Asiyah Pritchett, senior outside hitter Kenadi Morgan, senior outside hitter Abi Locklear, junior outside hitter Baylie Burns, and junior right side Riley Goble were all among the top hitters in the Region.
Locklear was third overall in 5A Region 7 with an outstanding 212 kills. Pritchett came in fifth with 167 kills and Moore was ninth with 145.
Burns added 129 kills while Morgan had 104, Goble had 70 and sophomore Ayla Hines, who was seeing a lot of playing time towards the end of the regular season, had 59 more.
All volleyball teams are hoping to have a good setter and Coach Hann was blessed to have three of them this year with all three among the top six in the region in assists. And the best news is they will all be back next year.
Freshman Kate Watson was third in the league with 398 this year. Junior Jordan Perkins was fourth with 326 and Kate Watson’s older sister, junior Lauren Watson, was sixth overall.
The Yellow Jackets also had the top three servers and four of the top six in the league.
Locklear led her team and the Region in aces with 73 while senior Cate Momon and junior Lauren Watson tied for second with 62 apiece. Kate Watson was sixth with 57.
Dora Moore was third in the Region in blocks with 58 and just eight away from being second overall.
Hiles was sixth in the Region with 32 and Pritchett was ninth with 26.
Lauren Watson was also one of the league’s top defenders, finishing second in the league in digs with Locklear fifth.
Watson had 321 digs and Locklear closed out with 202.
Calhoun finished the year with a 25-20 record and the Lady Jackets were 4-1 in the region to finish second behind 5-0 Blessed Trinity.
If the Lady Phoenix can go up one more rung on the playoff ladder than they did last year, they’ll be in the 2021 AAA state championship game.
That’s because last year in the midst of a global pandemic that caused schedules and even rosters to be very fluid, Sonoraville made it all the way to the state semifinals before its season came to an end.
The Phoenix have also played a wide variety of opponents, facing teams from the 6A classification to the 2A level in the hopes of duplicating, if not surpassing, what happened to them last year.
Sonoraville closed out it’s season over the weekend with its Region tournament, playing its first-round region game on Thursday and then coming back on Saturday for the championship rounds.
The Phoenix went into that region tournament with a 7-1 record after they finished second behind Lafayette, which was 8-0 and the one seed going into the weekend competition.
And that record came because the Phoenix had some of the strongest players in Region 6.
Junior middle blocker Alley Cole paced the Area in kills with 244 of them and she was also the only player in the league with a kill percentages over 50 percent with those 244 coming on 480 attempts.
Two young setters, junior Camden Steely and sophomore Sulli Knight, are among the leaders in assists. Steely finished with 316 for fourth in the league and Knight collected 202 of them for sixth place.
Knight also led her club in assists with 54.
Sonoraville had a pair of the top blockers in the league. Cole was second in rejections at the net with 83 and sophomore Ryley Brewer was eighth in the league with 45, although she was only three away from being fifth in the region.
Sophomore Mollie Roberts led the Phoenix in digs with 164.
Head coach Dia Johnson’s team went into the regional tournament with a 17-13 record overall.