Sequoyah (32-4) was the only team to finish the event unscathed. The Lady Chiefs defeated River Ridge and Creekview during the first portion of the round-robin event Thursday, then wrapped up with wins over Etowah, Cherokee and Woodstock on Saturday.
In fact, when the Lady Chiefs finished their final match against Woodstock a little before 1 p.m. Saturday, they knew they had the county title wrapped up, even though there were two matches remaining — River Ridge-Etowah and Creekview-Cherokee.
Etowah’s only loss came against Sequoyah in one of the first matches Saturday morning.
Also Saturday, Creekview defeated Cherokee and Etowah beat Creekview and River Ridge.
Sequoyah coach John Edwards minimized the significance of the Lady Chiefs winning county for the 18th time, but he did say it’s good for team morale.
“Everybody wants to win county, so it’s good to win it,” he said. “They know a lot of the girls on the other teams, so it lets them say, ‘We are county champs.’ As a competitive thing, so many of the matches — not just ours — were so close, it’s good to see the high level of play in the county.”
Sequoyah had already played each of the other teams in the county this season, save for Cherokee. The Lady Chiefs had to fight the hardest against Etowah, which lost in two sets, though it did lead at times.
“The talent level in our county is so high,” Edwards said. “I thought all of the (matches) were going to be close, and knowing that we played (Etowah) earlier this season and it went three (sets). I didn’t expect anything different, but I thought my girls did a good job of working hard, even when we got down.”
For his team, Edwards said the most important thing he saw was that the players didn’t get down if they gave up a few points.
“We didn’t look like we were losing,” he said. “We have worked on our composure and not letting two or three points turn into four or five. I think we did a good job of that (Saturday).”
Top performers for Sequoyah on Saturday included Kayla Morris (22 digs), Logan Page (61 assists, seven digs, seven kills, four aces) and Jensyn Wells (22 digs, two aces). Lane Lauletta added eight kills, and Kelley Hartman had 12 kills, nine digs, nine aces and five blocks. Lauren Hartman finished with 11 kills, six blocks and four digs, while Calli Jones had 29 kills, 15 digs, nine aces, six assists and two blocks.
As for Etowah coach Kim Robertson, she was surprised by the talent of River Ridge in particular. Her Lady Eagles had not faced the Lady Knights until the final match of Saturday’s action.
Though Etowah won in two sets, both were by close final scores. River Ridge led for the majority of the second set before Etowah rallied to win 25-23.
“That was a fun one,” Robertson said. “That was the first time I had seen River Ridge and I thought it was pretty competitive. I think they will do well in their classification. That was a fun match to watch.”
Robertson said the match against Sequoyah was tough for her girls, but she saw some good things.
“It was kind of disappointing, but they are a good team,” she said. “We played Creekview in our second (match) and got everyone some playing time.”
Next up for some of the teams are their respective area tournaments, which begin as early as Thursday, but others are still playing for seeding. Cherokee and Woodstock have a tri-match with Lassiter on Tuesday, with implications for Area 4AAAAAA, while Etowah will play Roswell and Wheeler.
The 4AAAAAA tournament will begin Friday with matches at Etowah and Woodstock before moving to Milton for the finals Saturday.
Sequoyah will host the Area 7AAAAA event on Thursday and Saturday. River Ridge, a favorite in Area 7AAAA, will open tournament play Thursday.
Creekview coach Abigail Jackson hopes her team puts things together better at the area tournament than it did at county.
“It’s wasn’t all bad,” she said. “There was some good stuff, but the girls are tired. It’s the end of the season and they are struggling to keep it together all the time. We’ve got a lot to work on defense and putting the ball away on offense. That’s our focus now.”