Gordon Lee in volleyball Final Four for first time
The Gordon Lee Lady Trojans have been playing competitive volleyball at the GHSA level for nearly 20 years and have made numerous appearances in the state tournament during that span.
But while the Navy-and-white have seen the Round of 16 on several occasions, and even the Elite Eight a small handful of times, they’ve never been able to take that next step as they have always, inevitably, come up against a private school state powerhouse from big cities like Atlanta or Savannah.
However, when the 2018 season started, the Lady Trojans were buoyed by the news that for the first time, the GHSA was combining Classes A and AA and were splitting them between public and private for the state playoffs.
And on Saturday, with some history on the line, Gordon Lee took it to a new level.
After dropping a nail-biting 30-28 decision in the opening set, Gordon Lee reeled off three consecutive set victories, 25-22, 25-21 and 25-15, to defeat Area 4 champion Bremen on the road and advance to the state Final Four for the very first time.
“It’s a little numbing and a little surreal at the moment,” said coach Tricia Goodwin, whose team swept past Lake Oconee Academy last Wednesday in the second round. “We’ve never had an opportunity like this before, so it’s special. I’ve already gotten text messages from some of our former players over the years cheering us on and wanting us to win it for Gordon Lee. We felt like we owed it to all of them to get to the Final Four.”
Goodwin said that all four sets on Saturday were close ones before her team finally started to pull away midway through the fourth and final set.
“We had some early struggles, but all the girls showed up today wanting to win and ready to win,” she added. “Bremen is no joke. They have strong hitters and good passers. They made some great shots and had several blocks, but today it came down to who played better defense.”
Goodwin said an unbelievable defensive play by libero Madison Mayberry seemed to turn the momentum toward the way of the Lady Trojans.
“We were in the third set and Madison went after a ball that was halfway across the floor,” she explained. “She dove and was able to get a hand on it to keep it alive. It really seemed to get us going after that.”
Mayberry finished the match with 27 digs, while Sally Thomison had 10 digs and finished things off with a matchclinching ace. Brooklyn Hudson paced the offense with 22 kills, followed by Delaney Bridges with nine and Arilyn Lee with eight. M.K. Roberts finished with 23 assists on the day.
Gordon Lee (32-6) was slated to play at defending Class AA state champion Coosa in the state semifinals. Due to newspaper deadlines, results were not available as of press time.
The Lady Trojans breezed in their second-round match, 25-10, 25-9 and 25-21, last Wednesday.
Hudson had 12 total kills on the night, followed by Maribeth Blaylock with 11. Lee had five kills and three blocks while Thomison served up three of Gordon Lee’s 10 total aces. Roberts finished the day with 19 assists, while Mayberry had six digs from her libero spot.
Gordon Lee’s previous two trips to the Elite Eight came in 2014 and 2015 when they participated in the Class AA bracket. They lost both times to powerhouse Wesleyan by 3-0 counts.
Madison Mayberry (left) and Annie Mcdaniel (right) both go for a ball during Gordon Lee’s second-round victory over Lake Oconee Academy last Wednesday. The Lady Trojans were scheduled to play at Coosa on Tuesday of this week in the Final Four.