And the first meeting between the Area 3AAAAAA teams couldn’t have been any closer.
Harrison overcame two match points to win its third county championship with a grueling 26-24, 25-27, 17-15 victory Saturday at Allatoona High School.
The Lady Hoyas’ title snapped the five-year stranglehold Pope had in the tournament. The Lady Greyhounds lost to Harrison in the semifinals.
While North Cobb (26-10) couldn’t take advantage of its third-set opportunities against Harrison (35-8), it will still have at least one more chance to get even when the teams face one another Oct. 1 at North Cobb.
“We’re glad with the way we played, and we’re looking forward to playing them in two weeks,” said North Cobb outside hitter Savanna Gonzales, who finished with nine kills in the final.
There’s another reason North Cobb is ready to jump at the chance. Despite all the close encounters between the teams as of late, it’s Harrison that keeps winning them.
Since North Cobb beat Harrison in the county semifinals two years ago, the Lady Hoyas have won the last six meetings, with four coming down to a third set.
It looked as if North Cobb would snap the streak Saturday, after taking a 12-7 third-set lead sparked by five Gonzales kills.
But the tide turned in Harrison’s favor when Allana McInnis blocked a kill on the following point to keep Harrison in the match. That led to the Lady Hoyas winning four straight points on Sarah Taylor’s serve to tie it at 12-all.
“I think the girls decided at that point that we had made a couple of unforced errors. We’ve given points away and we need to get those points back,” Harrison coach Clay Taylor said. “In the last timeout, every one of them said, ‘We’re getting this ball up, we’re putting it down and we’re going to win this.’”
Harrison’s comeback was highlighted by consecutive solo blocks from Katie Doering and Madison Bright, with Bright’s deflection landing on the North Cobb sideline. Sarah Taylor hit an ace to tie the set at 12-all.
But the Lady Hoyas couldn’t take the lead.
North Cobb regained the lead on an Abby Miller first-ball kill and drew match point when Doering over-hit a kill attempt. Harrison saved the first match point on a service error, and Doering and Bright assisted on a block to tie the set at 14-all.
“It’s all about key moments, and in key moments, we couldn’t execute like we wanted to,” North Cobb coach James Auld said. “We definitely have a couple of serves and passes we’d like back, but so did Harrison. When you get opportunities against a top team, you’ve got to take them.”
They Lady Hoyas had match point at 15-14 but North Cobb setter Taylor Parrish came through with a dump for a winner. They got another chance when Caroline Ostman, who finished with 16 kills, put away a free ball, and Jocelyn Mahayag finished it off with an ace.
“We really had to depend on each other,” said middle blocker Andie Karmel, who had four kills and two blocks. “I think it’s a lot of us pushing through to the end.”
For a moment, it looked as if Harrison would win in straight sets after building an early 7-1 lead in the second set. The Lady Hoyas even had two match points, but they were both thwarted by Miller kills — the second of which tied the score at 25-all.
North Cobb got its first set point on a block by Parrish, and Kaitlyn Woodruff and converted on a Miller kill.
Miller led North Cobb with 11 kills, while Parrish had 18 assists.
For Harrison, Taylor Haskins had 10 kills, Doering finished with 4½ blocks and Bright finished with 24 assists.