Gordon Lee Trojans

The Gordon Lee Lady Trojans' crossed another hurdle in their quest for their first-ever state volleyball championship appearance with a second-round victory over Atlanta private school Lovett in the Class AA/A Public School playoffs Saturday afternoon in Chickamauga.

"Not only was this win big for today, but for the rest of the season too," head coach Adam Crowley said. "It's a confidence builder for sure."

The Lady Lions, the Area 5 runner-up who was a fixture in the Class AAA playoffs for the past few seasons before being placed in the AA/A Public School division for volleyball by the GHSA following reclassification this school year, stayed with the Area 7 champion Lady Trojans for the first half of the opening set. But Gordon Lee would pull away for a 25-15 victory to get the best-of-five match going.

Lovett (20-13) went up by eight points early in the second set before hanging on for a 25-20 win, but that would be the last set the Lady Lions would take as Gordon Lee won 25-15 and 25-18 in the next two sets to punch its ticket to the state quarterfinals.

"We spotted them (a 9-1) lead in the second set because we just weren't mentally ready," Crowley explained. "But once we kind of battled back and we saw that it was a pretty close game (at the end), even after giving them that lead, then we knew we had chance to win.

"Getting that third-set win was huge. Going into the seven-minute break and being up a set on them, it just really felt good knowing we were just one win away and then we were able to put it away. It showed a lot of confidence by our team."

Arilyn Lee had 15 kills, four digs and two aces in the victory. Brooklyn Hudson finished with 11 kills, six digs and four blocks. Emoree Rogers dished out 12 assists to go with eight kills and four blocks. Sam Cramer had 10 assists, four aces and three digs. M.K. Roberts collected six kills, seven digs and five assists, while Annie McDaniel picked up nine digs.

Up next for Gordon Lee (35-11) is a Wednesday home match with Toombs County (14-13), the No. 2 seed from Area 3. The Lady Trojans avoided a very long drive to Thomasville for their Elite Eight match after Toombs knocked off the Area 1 champs in five sets on Saturday.

Thomasville, a fellow No. 1 seed, would have had home-court advantage due to the GHSA's universal coin flip for the quarterfinal round.

"It's huge and we're excited about it," Crowley added. "We had a good fan base today and we're hoping to have a bigger fan base on Wednesday, and hopefully on Saturday (Oct. 31) as well, if we make it that far. We're excited and the girls are excited. They know they can do it and they know that they're earning it. We're ready for the next match."

A win on Wednesday and Gordon Lee would host a Final Four match next Saturday against either Area 3, No. 3 seed Woodville-Tompkins or Area 5, No. 3 seed Elite Scholars Academy, who swept the Lady Trojans in last year's Final Four en route to its second straight state runner-up finish.

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

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