But the Lady Wolverines (28-9, 6-0) are going to have to defend it without starting setter Erin Leavell, who is currently out with a concussion sustained last week. Freshman Holland Martin will take the reins at the setter position. Brooke Warner also has experience making sets but will be used primarily for hitting and blocking.
Mount Paran Christian (32-13, 5-1) has had a breakout season with several wins over Class AAAAAA teams and could challenge Walker for the crown. Although Walker swept its area opponents in straight sets, the Lady Eagles gave Walker the most trouble with the Lady Wolverines coming away with a 25-22, 25-22 win.
Gordon Lee and Christian Heritage could also be a threat after coming away with a winning record in area play. Even the 4A teams with the weaker records – Darlington, North Cobb Christian and Whitefield Academy – have have stirred trouble in area matches.
“We have a much more competitive area this year,” Walker coach Karen Arndt said. “Our matches have been competitive. With two freshmen starters (Martin and Jordan Tasman), they’re pumped about taking the next step.”
The Area 3AAAAAA tournament, which will take place at Hillgrove on Thursday before ending Saturday, could come down to another rematch between top two seeds Harrison and North Cobb.
It seems like North Cobb (34-13, 7-1) has had trouble closing matches against Harrison. If the two teams play for the championship, the Lady Warriors will have to stop a seven-match losing streak to the Lady Hoyas with five of them coming down to a third set.
For North Cobb to have success, Savanna Gonzales must be healthy. Chances of her playing North Cobb’s regular season finale against Walton and Sonoraville are unlikely, but coach James Auld said she would likely be ready to go when the 3AAAAAA tournament begins.
Meanwhile, Harrison (43-8, 8-0) is getting healthier with Kodi Smith now cleared to play following offseason shoulder surgery – she had 12 totals digs Tuesday in area wins over North Cobb, Hillgrove and Campbell.
Harrison beat North Cobb in a pair of three-set matches this season, including last Tuesday’s area match.
“When you play a team that you know each other real well, it comes down to making a play in the clutch,” Auld said. “We hope that we learn something in the last meetings.”
Pope is healthier than it was three weeks ago and is looking to better its No. 4 seed status behind Sequoyah, North Springs and Creekview when the Area 7AAAAA tournament begins Thursday at Sequoyah and Creekview.
Three weeks ago, the Lady Greyhounds (25-22, 7-3) had three starters out with injury. One of them, setter Morgan Dees, is lost for the season with an ankle injury, but coach Bryan Jones said middle hitter Cristina Bixby and outside hitter Sydney Darden are expecting to play this week
Pope will be gunning for its eighth straight area tournament title and is eager for another chance against Sequoyah, which beat the Lady Greyhounds in straight sets in area play.
“We played Sequoyah, they’re a solid team, “ Jones said, “but at the same time, I want to see what our full team without the injuries can do against them. I think it’s anybody’s game.”
Walton (33-6, 8-0) cruised through its Area 4AAAAAA matches, winning all matches in straight sets, and will be competing for its fourth straight area title at Milton High School.
Allatoona (9-14, 5-0) just wrapped up a perfect Area 5AAAAA mark and is going for its third straight tournament title.