The annual Cobb County volleyball tournament is often a tone-setter for postseason play for some of the top teams in the county.
This year, the tournament will have three brackets — championship, silver and bronze.
With the region and state tournaments less than two weeks away, teams taking part in Saturday’s county tournament at North Cobb are using the opportunity to see how they match up against old foes and potential opponents.
North Cobb coach Stephen Sansing said his Lady Warriors, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, has the chance to come off fall break to come out and play good teams and allow them to get back in their normal rhythm and flow leading into the region and state tournaments.
“The great thing about this weekend is it is not just our own classification,” Sansing said. “All the teams spread out from (Class) A all the way up to (Class) AAAAAAA will be playing. There are a lot of good quality teams in our county, so for the majority of them to be there is pretty cool.”
Mount Paran Christian (26-7) will be the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Also in the field are Hillgrove (12-13), Lassiter (20-11), Sprayberry (5-26), Harrison (13-15), McEachern (10-4), North Cobb (25-11), North Cobb Christian (16-10), Allatoona (20-10), Marietta (4-21), Kennesaw Mountain (20-14), Osborne (1-16) and Wheeler (13-26).
Eight teams bypassed the county tournament — Walton, Campbell, Kell, Mount Bethel Christian, Pebblebrook, Pope, South Cobb and Whitefield Academy. With Pope and Walton not participating, Mount Paran and North Cobb will have byes to the second round.
North Cobb is aiming to use the tournament as a stepping stone from the regular season, where it is second in Region 3AAAAAAA. Not wanting to exhaust all their energy Saturday, Sansing said his team is looking forward to a potential matchup with Mount Paran.
Mount Paran sits atop the Region 7A Private standings, having otherwise finished its regular season.
Coach Selina Chancy said the county tournament will provide her team with a high level of competition across different classifications, as well giving the Lady Eagles the opportunity to see teams that they have not played in a while, like Kennesaw Mountain and Hillgrove.
Chancy said it will also give her a chance to assess how Mount Paran can adjust its strategy or game plan before the region tournament.
“This will allow us to really play together as a cohesive team,” Chancy said. “In the last couple of weeks, we have hit that stride where we are not just playing as individuals, but as one team. If we win it all as a team, that’s awesome, but if we don’t, it will just give us the chance to figure it out so we can play together when it counts in the next couple weeks.”
Region 6AAAAAA will have six of its nine teams playing Saturday. Two teams that relying heavily on the tournament to gauge their performance for region tournament play are Allatoona and Kennesaw Mountain.
The teams see-sawed back and forth between third and fourth place in the region, but Kennesaw Mountain ultimately claimed third with a strong regular-season finish.
Lady Mustangs coach Jessica Feder said the team needed to be disciplined and play clean, along with being locked down at every single point. They aim to use the tournament to improve, but they are ready for challenging matchups they could see in the region.
“Mount Paran is extremely disciplined. They don’t turn off for any point, so playing them is always a challenge,” Feder said. “North Cobb has definitely grown a lot this season, so playing them is not going to be like any other year.”
Allatoona coach Joseph Soley said it will be hard for his squad playing in a tournament a week out from region, but it will provide his players with tangible experience against heavy-hitting teams they will see in the postseason.
“We just came off a break, so we are just trying to get our feet underneath us,” Solely said. “It’s Cobb County. Everybody wants to vie and represent the county. It’s great to go out there and get our feet wet and see what we may need to work on, but you’re hoping you don’t play anyone in your region, because then they can create a game plan for the (region tournament). Overall, we are just excited to get out there and play.”