By Joe Deighton
It is still early in the season for the vast majority of teams throughout the state of Georgia, but some elite volleyball programs have already played a significant portion of their schedule. Harrison is one of those elite programs and they showed up in a big way at the McGill-Toolen Catholic Dirty Dozen Invitational in Mobile, Ala., this past weekend. Although they didn’t win the tournament, the Hoyas were able to defeat some of the top teams in the country. Harrison beat Faith Academy (Ala.) 2-0 (25-13, 25-15), Hancock (Mich.) 2-0 (25-13, 25-10), St. Paul’s Episcopal (Ala.) 2-0 (25-24, 25-19), Bayside (Ala.) 2-0 (25-21, 25-13), and Pelham (Ala.) 2-0 (25-16, 25-19). The Hoyas were defeated in the championship match by host McGill-Toolen 2-1 (30-28, 16-25, 9-15). Harrison has been led by Alexis Ryan, who has 89 kills and 23 aces in 39 games. The senior outside hitter was selected to the 2010 GVCA all-state team and looks like she is on her way to earning those honors again in 2011. Harrison is currently 14-1 overall and 1-0 in area play. Their schedule slows down a bit in the next two weeks with just four matches on the docket. … Megan Collins has been a major asset to the Southeast Whitfield team this year. The junior outside hitter leads the Raiders with 264 kills and 26 aces in 43 games. She also leads the team with 179 digs. Her stellar play has helped the team to a 16-3 overall record and a 1-0 area record. Collins is a three-sport star at Southeast Whitfield earning all-area honors in both basketball and golf as a sophomore last year. … St. Pius has won seven straight matches in convincing fashion. They have yet to drop a game since losing to Harrison on Aug. 18. The success is due in large part to their senior captain Ella Anastasiades. She has been a defensive force at the libero position. Her defense was on display earlier this season against Woodward when she led the Golden Lions with 22 digs. St. Pius has an early lead in Area 5-AAA with a 2-0 mark to go along with a 15-2 overall record. They have had a stranglehold on 5-AAA since 2008, winning the area in each successive season, and appear to be on their way again. … Woodward Academy came into 2011 as one of the favorites to win another state championship in Class AAA. They have won three consecutive titles, but have struggled so far this season. The War Eagles have started slowly with an 8-10 record after losing three straight games to Pope, Harrison and Sandy Creek early in the season. The loss of Zoey Morton, the 2010 Class AAA player of the year and Georgia Tech signee, looks like a bigger story now. However, the War Eagles still have a long way to go before the outcome of the season is determined.