Gordon Lee Trojans

There wasn't very much celebration when Gordon Lee finished off their Elite Eight volleyball match with Toombs County on Wednesday.

The Lady Trojans know there is still work to do.

As expected, heavily-favored Gordon Lee controlled the action start to finish and barely broke a sweat as they took down the visiting Lady Bulldogs from Lyons, 25-4, 25-12 and 25-8, in the quarterfinals of the Class AA/A Public School state tournament.

With the victory, Gordon Lee (36-11) will play host to a state semifinal match on Saturday for the very first time.

"We've been looking forward to this for a while," head coach Adam Crowley said.

Gordon Lee scored the first seven points of the match and led 15-2 in the first set before Toombs County finally got a point that wasn't the result of a Gordon Lee mistake.

But those points would be few and far between as the home team put on a clinic, frustrating their opponents by finding any and every available open spot on the court to drop shots with both power and finesse.

The Lady Bulldogs, the runner-up out of Area 3, took an early 3-2 lead in the second set, but the Lady Trojans would counter with a 9-2 run, forcing Toombs to call time-out, down 11-5. The quick break, however, did nothing to slow down the Navy-and-White, who went on a 10-2 run coming out of the time-out before coasting to the victory.

Then in the final set, M.K. Roberts stepped to the service line and reeled off 18 consecutive points to put an exclamation point on Gordon Lee's third straight Elite Eight victory.

Roberts finished with six aces to go with eight digs and four assists in the match. Brooklyn Hudson had 12 kills and five digs. Gracie Thomas finished with three kills and five blocks and Sam Cramer had three kills and six assists. Emoree Rogers finished with four kills, five blocks and eight assists, while Annie McDaniel helped anchor the back row with eight digs.

As expected and anticipated, Gordon Lee will face off with Elite Scholars Academy on Saturday. ESA, the No. 3 seed from ultra-tough Area 5, entered their Elite Eight match as the favorite to advance and did so with a 3-0 sweep of Area 3, No. 3 seed Woodville-Tompkins.

The Royal Knights finished third in Area 5 behind champion Pace Academy and runner-up Lovett, whom Gordon Lee beat in four sets in the second round. ESA lost to Coosa in the state finals in 2018 and fell to the Lady Eagles, 3-2, in last year's state championship match. They swept Gordon Lee, 3-0, in last year's state semifinals in Jonesboro.

"The biggest thing, I think, is defense," Crowley said of the main area of focus for his team in the semis. "Defense wins championships, you know. But I do think that we have a good team put together and we've got the girls in the right positions to (win). We're itching to play on Saturday. We're so excited. The girls have been thinking about this day for a while and they're ready."

The match is slated to begin at 12:30 p.m. The winner will take on either Area 8 champion Union County or heavily-favored Area 5 champion Pace Academy in the state finals. Union County defeated Area 2 champion Davidson Fine Arts of Augusta, 3-1, on Wednesday, while Pace - Class AAA state champion the past three seasons - swept Area 3 champion Vidalia, 3-0.

The title match will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 12 noon at the Lake Point Complex in Emerson.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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