KENNESAW — Mount Paran will get another shot at Calvary Day for the state championship after sweeping Hebron Christian 25-14, 25-22, 25-20 in Tuesday’s Class A/AA private-school state semifinal.
The Lady Eagles (41-3) are confident that this will be their year, and with the experience of playing on the big stage in last year’s Class A final, they are not going to allow the first-time jitters to interfere when they rematch with the three-time defending champion Saturday at McEachern.
In Mount Paran’s first trip to the state championship, it was sluggish in losing the first two sets decisively before settling in during the third set, which they lost 26-24.
“Our team last year, it was our first time in the state finals, and we were really excited, but also we were really nervous,” Mount Paran setter Bella Ferary said. “So, that’s half of (the reason) why we weren’t prepared. But, this year, I feel like we’re way more confident because we know what to expect.”
There were no signs of nerves going into Tuesday’s match against Hebron. Coach Selina Chancy made sure of that, and the Lady Eagles put forth their finest performance to date.
“Before the game, we all wrote down on a piece of paper what they were nervous about,” Chancy said. “We prayed about it. We tore up the paper, and we moved on.”
Sarah-Hayes Farley led Mount Paran with 16 kills. Angel Ferary tacked on 12 and Hannah Pulley added six.
The Lady Eagles managed a combined 16 blocks, led by Jordan Hough’s five, Angel Farary’s four, Pulley’s three and Moore’s two.
Nerves may have crept in momentarily late in the second set, after Mount Paran took a 22-18 lead on a solo block by Moore. Hebron’s Rebeca Olariu answered with a kill on the next point before Pulley was whistled for touching the net.
With Mount Paran’s lead down to two points, Farley stepped up with a crucial kill on the first pass to extend the lead. Two points later, Bella Ferary dumped the ball for a winner to give Mount Paran set point before Angel Ferary put it away on the second attempt.
During the break between sets, Chancy reminded her players not to let up.
“I told them that we just won a two-out-of-three match,” Chancy said. “That’s behind us, and now we have to play another two-out-of-three match. It doesn’t matter that we won the first two sets. It’s back to 0-0.”
The Lady Eagles looked sharper in the third set than they did the second. Paige Armstrong went on a three-point service run, highlighted by a combined block from Hough and Angel Ferary, followed by a solo block from Moore.
The closest Hebron came was four points on an Abby Luke ace to make it 23-19, but the Lady Eagles eventually put the match away on kills from Pulley and Angel Ferary.
Luke ended up with 24 assists for Hebron, while Hayden McGee led with 10 kills.