By Score Atlanta
Seven classifications crowned champions in volleyball on Saturday, with Classes A-AAA playing at Holy Innocents' and the top four classes playing at Marietta. Here are the recaps from Saturday's finals action.
Walton 3, Etowah 0
Two-time defending state champion Walton captured the program’s twelfth all-time state title and its seventh championship in the last eight years. The Raiders took the opening two sets 25-16 and clinched the match 25-21 in the third. Walton’s Gabby Gonzales produced 22 of the team's 49 kills, which came at a 47.6 percent success rate. Sophomore Madison Morey (3) and freshman Emery Dupes (3) accounted for six of Walton’s eight aces and junior Caroline Cheney led with 44 assists.
Harrison 3, Alpharetta 0
Harrison defeated Alpharetta in the Class AAAAAA championship for the second straight year to take home its third all-time title. The Hoyas edged the Raiders 25-21 in a close opening set; Harrison did not lead by more than three points until winning set point. In the second set, Harrison jumped out to a 10-5 lead. The Hoyas pushed the margin forward to a six-point lead (19-13), but Alpharetta responded with a 6-0 run that tied it 19-19. Harrison once again closed out the set at 25-21, this time with a 6-3 spurt. Facing a decisive third set, Alpharetta jumped out to a 6-1 lead. Harrison took back control of the match and Alpharetta had to call a timeout now trailing 15-12. Harrison came out of timed huddle with three straight points and clinched the third set 25-18. Harrison’s defense was dominant and fed opportunities for Rosie McHugh, Meg Kastensmidt, Hailey Crane and Alana Simpson offensively. McHugh led the way with 14 kills, while Kastensmidt (13), Simpson (11) and Crane (9) combined 35 of Harrison’s 52 kills. Crane (17), Camryn Bihary (14), Rosie McHugh (13), Kastensmidt (13) Morris (11), Simpson (2) and Indigo Young (1) produced 71 digs.
McIntosh 3, Buford 2
McIntosh held off defending champion Buford in a thrilling five-set rematch of last year’s AAAAA finals and captured the program’s third all-time state title. The first set intensified once McIntosh had built a 15-13 lead and the Chiefs were able to clinch a 25-21 set point. In the second set, Buford came even closer to overcoming MacIntosh's early edge, but the Chiefs defended an 18-16 lead and took the set 25-23. The drama of the second set led to a sloppy start to the third set. The Wolves got going and jumped out to a 10-5 lead, but McIntosh settled in too and tied it at 10-10 with a 5-0 run. Buford regained the lead and grew it to double-digits before forcing a fourth set with a 25-20 victory. Buford led 19-11 in the fourth set, but McIntosh was able to spark a 10-1 run to bring it within 21-20. The Wolves answered and evened it at 2-2 with a 25-22 win. Buford had brought itself back from a 2-0 hole, but McIntosh played the fifth set motivated by last year’s finals loss. The Chiefs jumped out to an 11-7 lead and closed the fifth set 15-10.
Marist 3, Blessed Trinity 0
Marist swept Blessed Trinity to capture the program’s first state title since 2014 and snap the Titans’ three-year state title run. The War Eagles have previously beaten Blessed Trinity twice this season, including a 3-1 victory on Oct. 5 in the area finals. This streak of success showed as Marist came out confident and firing on all cylinders in the opening set and clinched it 25-14. The War Eagles took the second set 25-19 and closed the match 25-22 in the third. Marist (47) posted 20 more kills than Blessed Trinity (27) and Rachel Johnson assisted on 42 of the team’s kills. Defensively, Mia Stander (21), Krista McNamara (15) and Cameron Dames (15) combined for 51 of Marist’s digs. After needing just 59 digs in the semifinals, Blessed Trinity totaled 92 team digs against the War Eagles’ attack.
Pace Academy 3, Westminster 2
A back-and-forth match between Pace Academy and Westminster ended in dramatic fashion with the Knights claiming the title. Pace battled back in the first set to go ahead early, with a score of 25-23. The next two sets went to Westminster as the Wildcats maintained steady leads to win 25-21 and 25-22 and go up 2-1 in the match. During the fourth set, however, Pace began to regain control of the match, winning 25-17. In the fifth set, the Knights won 15-8 to claim the Class AAA state title. Ada Jane Agolli led the team with 25 kills and a .252 hitting percentage. Dominique Turner and Alexandra Baker accumulated 37 and 28 digs, respectively, to keep the Knights defense strong. Freshman Kalissa Greene had 40 assists.
Coosa 3, St. Vincent’s 0
Coosa had its first state finals appearance last season but lost to Savannah powerhouse St. Vincent's. This year, Coosa had no such plans as it swept the Saints 25-23, 25-20, 27-25 to take the Class AA championship. Senior middle blocker Taylor Roberts contributed heavily on offense and defense with 16 kills, three blocks and nine digs. Sophomore Setter Brinley Smith helped create scoring opportunities and racked up 33 assists. Sophomore outside hitter Kasey Thacker had nine kills and 12 digs and capitalized on strong serves by scoring six aces. Junior libero Deb Barker played solid defense and accumulated 20 digs throughout the match. As a team, the Eagles had 33 total kills and 58 digs in their championship win over St. Vincent’s.
Calvary Day 3, Mt. Paran Christian 0
After reaching its third-straight state title match, top-ranked Calvary Day made it three state championships in a row after a 25-19, 25-16, 26-24 sweep against No. 3 Mt. Paran Christian. Mt. Paran maintained a steady lead for the majority of the third set but faltered toward the back end of the set and were unable to stop the Cavaliers. Senior outside hitter Morgan Pearson contributed heavily on offense, totaling 12 kills. Adding to the strong offensive performance by the Cavaliers was senior middle blocker Sara Daniels, who also totaled 12 kills. Outside of this high-scoring duo, libero Madison Sprosty created opportunities and contained the opposing attack throughout the match, accumulating 14 digs.