The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) started its state volleyball tournament Oct. 19 with local programs vying for championships in their respective classifications.
The GHSA state fast-pitch softball playoffs are also in full swing.
In the volleyball playoffs, the Class A/AA bracket begins with Holy Innocents’, the top seed from Area 1. The Golden Bears secured the area title with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-16) win over Mount Vernon Oct. 10. Paige Collins had a team-high 23 digs and nine kills, Renee Davis posted a team-high 14 kills and four blocks and Ellen Goetz dished out a team-high 35 assists in the victory. All three players were named to the All-Area team. Holy Innocents’ hosted Savannah Country Day in the first round.
Mount Vernon was the second seed from Area 1 and hosted Calvary Day in the first round. Atlanta International was the third seed from the area and visits St. Vincents to open state play. Galloway rounded out the Area 1 participation in the state playoffs as the fourth seed, and it visited Savannah Christian.
Wesleyan is the second seed from Area 7A and hosted St. Francis in its first-round contest. Meredith Mangum was named to the All-Area first team, Alden Pridgen and Riley Bryan were on the second team and Grace Carroll was listed as an honorable mention.
“For us it is a matter of playing consistent,” Wolves coach Ted Russell said. “When we are on, we can play with anyone in the state. It is important for us to stay aggressive in the serving and passing part of the game and establish the middles early to open up our outsides.”
Three local squads in Westminster, Pace and Lovett are in the Class 3A bracket.
The Wildcats earned the top seed from Area 4AAA after a 3-0 (25-17, 25-15, 26-24) victory over the Knights Oct. 10. Mary Emily Morgan had a team-high 17 kills and 17 digs for a double-double and teammate Ashley Vincent posted 16 kills in the victory. Chloe Emch dished out a team-high 33 assists and Betsy Moore had 15 digs for Westminster. Morgan was named the area’s Most Valuable Player and Moore, Emch and Vincent were named first team All-Area.
The Wildcats opened the postseason at home against Peach County.
“The team has been playing strong and competitive volleyball so we are in a great spot skill-wise,” Westminster coach Catherine Monroe said. “They've challenged some of the top teams in the state and have recently had some big wins, so they are ready mentally. The key at this point is for the girls to stay healthy, cohesive and in a rhythm with ball control.”
Pace was the second seed from the region and hosted Kendrick to open its postseason.
“We need to get healthy,” Knights coach Anna Bush said. “We will continue to adjust our lineup based on matchups and to ensure our best players are on the court. Lastly, be together and buy into our plan and stay the course.”
Lovett was the fourth seed from the area and visited Jackson (Atlanta) in its first-round match.
“The girls are working hard in postseason,” Lions coach Katie Johnson said. “We've had a lot of growth this season and it's encouraging to see it all come together at the right time. We have to outwork our opponents to be successful in the playoffs, defensively and offensively working hard and making smart decisions. If we eliminate our errors we have a good shot at being successful.”
The Class 4A playoff bracket also features three local squads. Woodward was the top seed from Region 4AAAA and hosted Mary Persons. St. Pius X earned the top seed from Region 8AAAA and hosted Ridgeland. Marist hosted a first-round match as the second seed from Region 7AAAA against Central (Carrollton).
Riverwood enters the Class 5A playoffs as the top seed from Region 6AAAAA. The Raiders concluded the regular season with a 2-0 (25-12, 25-7) non-region home win over Douglas County Oct. 10. Kaylah Jackson had a team-high eight kills and five digs and Christyn Ashby had seven kills in the victory. Nicole Brooks posted a team-high 19 assists for the Raiders.
Jackson was named the region’s Player of the Year for the third consecutive year and an All-Region first team member along with Brooks and Ashby. Neri Humphrey, Sydney Levitan, Ty Thompson and Emily Wood were named to the second team and Kaci Krugelwicz and Riley Mehrman were honorable mentions. Riverwood’s Nikia Bynum-Isler was awarded the region’s Coach of the Year for the fourth straight year.
The Raiders opened the postseason with a home match against Walnut Grove.
"Preparations are coming along well,” Bynum-Isler said. “We are focusing on being a dynamic serve-reception and defensive team. Defensively, our blockers have done an outstanding job blocking and getting touches on the ball. If we are effective defensively we normally do well offensively.”
North Springs is also in the Class 5A playoffs as the fourth seed from Region 6AAAAA and opened at Buford.
In the softball playoffs, Wesleyan, the defending Class A Private state champion, has advanced to the quarterfinals following a 2-0 sweep of Trinity Christian Oct. 16. The Wolves, who are the top overall seed in the bracket, won the first game 12-0 and the second one 16-0.
Lovett is also in the quarterfinals for Class 3A. The Lions, who are the top seed from Region 5AAA, opened the playoffs with a 2-0 (9-1, 6-4) sweep of Greater Atlanta Christian Oct. 9. Lovett followed it up with another sweep, this time to Islands by the scores of 6-0 and 12-3.
Rounding out the local programs in the quarters is Marist. The War Eagles entered the Class 4A playoffs as the top seed from Region 7AAAA and swept their first-round opponent, Chapel Hill, 2-0 (10-2, 11-2) Oct. 8. Marist also won its second-round series 2-0 against Cairo, earning a 2-1 victory in the first contest and a 4-0 win in the second game.
The quarterfinals will begin Oct. 24 at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus.
Five other local teams were eliminated in games Oct. 10 through 16.
In the second round of the Class A Private playoffs, Mount Vernon fell to Hebron Christian 2-0 (14-6, 19-6), and Holy Innocents' lost to Christian Heritage 2-0 (8-0, 10-3).
Pace was eliminated by Southeast Bulloch 2-0 (2-0, 16-0) in the second round of the 3A tournament. In the first round, Westminster was knocked out by Lumpkin County 2-1 in a tight series. The Wildcats lost the first game 9-1, won the second one 2-0 but fell 6-5 in Game 3.
In the 5A tourney, North Springs fell to Loganville 2-0 (9-0, 11-1) in the first round.
Also, Woodward fell to Perry 2-0 (10-2, 9-0) in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs Oct. 8.