By Joe Deighton
North Gwinnett looks a lot like the team that went 45-4 last year. The Bulldogs have won 12 out of their last 13 matches and have looked like a team that is poised to make another run at a state championship. Senior setter Alex Panks has been the leader of this squad for three years. She was named second-team all-county as a sophomore and first-team all-county as a junior. Last year, she was one of the team’s top all-around statistical leaders with 807 assists, 211 digs 129 aces and 97 kills. This year she has helped the Bulldogs to some big wins, including becoming Gold Champions with a win over South Forsyth in the Forsyth Challenge in late August. Panks had 36 assists in her team’s last two wins over Shiloh and Whitefield Academy. She is being sought after by a number of colleges including Eckerd College, West Georgia and North Alabama. Another top player on the Bulldogs team is junior outside hitter Kristina Stinson. She had 271 kills, 117 aces, and 49 blocks in 2010 and she’s on her way to posting bigger numbers this year. The six-foot senior led North Gwinnett with 15 kills and six assists in their victory over Roswell earlier this year. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs didn’t get the same production from Panks and Stinson in their latest match against Roswell, as they were sent to their third defeat of the season to put their overall record at 19-3. … Greater Atlanta Christian has won eight straight matches since losing to Blessed Trinity on Aug. 27. The biggest win came against Wesleyan in the Serve for the Cure, a match that helped raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Senior outside hitter Dede Bohannon led the team with 17 kills to go along with 11 digs. Senior libero Catherine Chason was stellar on defense with 22 digs. The Spartans took the win 3-0 (25-13, 25-17, 25-13) in a rare five-set match. They face Hebron Christian and Providence Christian this weekend at the Buford-Area 4-A/AA Playday. … Blessed Trinity has raced to an 18-6 overall record and a 2-0 mark in area play. Last weekend, the Titans traveled to Savannah and beat Calvary, St. Vincent’s, Savannah Country Day, Savannah Christian and Bluffton (S.C.) all in their own backyard. The match against Country Day was a tense one at first with Blessed Trinity facing an 11-7 first-set deficit, but they made up ground quickly and stormed back for a 25-19 win. The second set was a little easier, as the Titans breezed to a 13-3 lead and then held on for a 25-15 win. The win was due in large part to the sharp play of junior setter Ashley MacDonald and freshman right hitter Maggie Rick. Throughout the matches in Savannah they gave up just two games. This weekend, the Titans travel to Brentwood, Tenn., and compete in the Brentwood Invitational.