By Ricky Dimon
A trio of Area 3 teams in Blessed Trinity, Buford and St. Pius X are part of the Class AAA final four. Heading into its second match of 2013 against Buford, No. 1 seed St. Pius X took the Sept. 10 regular-season meeting 25-18, 22-25, 25-19. Senior outside hitter Leah Hardeman set a school record earlier this season with 28 kills in a match. Woodward Academy, an Area 2 representative, has faced both Buford and St. Pius X this season, but has not yet clashed with Blessed Trinity. The War Eagles have won eight matches in a row and 20 straight sets. Second-seeded Blessed Trinity won all six of its sets in the first two rounds of state by a margin no closer than 25-15 after losing to St. Pius X 3-2 in a thrilling area championship. The Titans have captured state titles two of the past three seasons (Class AA/A in 2010 and Class AAA in 2012).
The second of the two five-set quarterfinal showdowns, this one in Class AA, saw Jefferson hold off St. Vincent’s Academy 25-22, 25-23, 13-15, 13-15, 15-8. Grace Williams had 10 digs and eight kills in the winning effort after recording seven digs and 15 kills during second-round sweep of Calhoun. Next up for the Dragons is top-seeded Westminster, which swept both Coosa and Greater Atlanta Christian prior to a quarterfinal bye. The four remaining teams in Class AA are from Area 4 (Westminster and Lovett) and Area 6 (Jefferson and Wesleyan). No. 2 seed Wesleyan, which swept Putnam County and Laney before getting a quarterfinal bye, has already defeated Lovett once this season. The Wolves prevailed 25-21, 25-22 on Aug. 24. Westminster is still bidding for its first state crown since 2008 (Class AA/A) after losing a 3-2 heartbreaker to Lovett in last year’s championship match.
“Even though we fell short of the state title, I was so proud of my team for making it as far as we did,” Westminster senior captain Ellie Hogan reflected on the 2012 campaign. “Since we had such a young team last year, we entered this season understanding the importance of what it means to be a part of a team and working as a cohesive unit on the court. We played a lot of talented teams in 2013 to get ready for the playoffs and it would be the perfect ending to an amazing season if we win the championship.”
Class A No. 1 seed Holy Innocents’ is facing Eagle’s Landing Christian for the second time this season after winning the matchup 25-14, 25-16 on Aug. 24. Both teams dropped only one set on their way to the last four. Eagle’s Landing Christian captured the Class AA/A championship in 2011 but lost to Savannah Christian 3-1 in last season’s second round. Savannah Christian is through to the semis for a second straight year following 3-0 sweeps of George Walton Academy, Paideia and Darlington. Next for the Raiders is Hebron Christian Academy, which defeated defending champion Landmark Christian in five sets during second-round action.
“We’ve thought of ourselves as underdogs in the past when we got to this point, but this year we are stronger,” senior outside hitter Sydney Harper told the Savannah Morning News. “We aren’t depending on one player. If everyone keeps working together, I think we can win it.”