But when the third-ranked Lady Warriors jumped in front early, they carried the momentum to the finish and beat the Class AAAA power 25-15, 25-20, 22-25, 25-12 at the War Lodge.
Tori Forrest led the way with 24 kills for North Cobb (9-1), and it was her offensive play that served as a spark.
“She’s our leader all the way — on the court and off the court,” North Cobb coach James Auld said of the senior outside hitter, in her third season as a Lady Warrior after transferring from Harrison as a sophomore. “She’s the best captain I’ve had in six years. She’s a gamer all the time. It doesn’t matter if she’s passing. It doesn’t matter if she’s swinging or serving. She has the will to win that you don’t see a lot from girls in any program.”
Setter Lauren Schmitz served well in the first set, blowing it open with an eight-point service run. She also came out aggressive in the fourth set, triggering an early run that Sequoyah (10-3), the sixth-ranked team of its classification, couldn’t recover from.
North Cobb’s ability to take an early lead in three of the four sets stemmed from a combination of factors. It won most of the long rallies, mixed up its serves to keep Sequoyah guessing on serve-receive and took advantage of hitting errors.
Sequoyah had seven offensive miscues in the second set and seven more in the fourth after playing a clean third.
“(North Cobb) came out a little more ready and focused than we were,” Sequoyah coach John Edwards said. “By the time we got back into it, it was a big hole to get out of. Getting down 2-0 is hard to come back. Putting three games together is really hard when they have the momentum and a good sense of what they were doing.”
Katie O’Rourke contributed with 14 kills and 1.5 blocks for the Lady Warriors, while Schmitz had 36 assists and three aces. Karla Radillo led defensively with 19 digs, Tate Pember added 13 and Forrest had 12.
North Cobb never looked back after Schmitz’s long service run in the first set. The Lady Warriors were ahead by 10 when it was over and the closest Sequoyah ever got was within six points.
Schmitz’s run in the first set began with two straight Forrest kills. O’Rourke then followed with a smash to open North Cobb’s lead to 7-2 before Schmitz came through with a couple of aces to extend the lead.
After Sequoyah committed seven hitting errors in the second set, the Lady Chiefs rallied after trailing by seven. But North Cobb responded with a run of their own to win the second set, finishing with consecutive O’Rourke kills.
Even though North Cobb won the second set, Sequoyah still had the momentum after its comeback and used it to open the third with a 4-0 lead. The Lady Chiefs responded well to North Cobb’s service game in the third, winning many points on kills after the first pass.
But North Cobb bounced back with a strong start in the fourth set and took advantage of three Sequoyah hitting errors to open up a 21-12 lead.
“We just had a mental break (in the third set) which is something I’m always afraid we will do after having a 2-0 lead on somebody,” Auld said. “In Games 1, 2 and 4, we had a strong start and had a 7-1 and 7-2 lead where we could weather a storm in the middle and still hang on.”