Gor­don Lee in vol­ley­ball Fi­nal Four for first time

The Catoosa County News - - SPORTS - By Scott Herpst sherpst@npco.com

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.

/ Scott Herpst

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.

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