MARIETTA — Pope outlasted Lassiter in a five-set battle to win the Region 6AAAAAA championship Thursday.
The teams traded set wins, with Pope winning the first, third and all-important fifth sets 25-14, 25-11 and 15-11, respectively. Lassiter won 25-23 and 25-19 in the second and fourth sets.
Pope jumped to a quick 4-0 lead to start the fifth set and used that early momentum to help it win the set and claim the No. 1 seed for next week’s state playoffs.
The Lady Greyhounds (27-1) will host Centennial to open the Class AAAAAA tournament.
Pope coach Jeff White knew the match would be a back-and-forth battle. Lassiter was the Class AAAAAAA runner-up in 2019 before dropping down a classification.
“We knew, against Lassiter, it was going to be like this and that we have to outlast them,” White said. “It’s a rivalry, so it’s a tough match no matter what.”
Pope claimed the first set quickly. In the second set, Katie Bochniak’s three aces helped Lassiter (16-6) even the match.
Pope gained control of the third set early and kept Lassiter from posing a threat, but the Lady Trojans bounced back in the fourth set with some crucial blocks by Kate Kudlac to force the tiebreaker.
Despite the loss, Lassiter coach Greg Hodge liked how his team came back after falling behind early.
“We gave up two bad sets but played great in the other ones,” Hodge said. “I like the heart that my team has.”
Lassiter will be a No. 2 seed in the playoffs as it hosts Creekview in the first round.
“I’m proud of my team, they fought and competed against a good team.” Hodge said. “We just came out on the short end of the stick on this one.”
Kudlac led Pope with 15 kills and five blocks, while Kendall Buice had 10 kills and Camille McCraw 17 digs. Ayanna Rodgers had 15 kills and two blocks, Lily Harvey had 12 kills and three aces and Adair Hutchinson had 14 digs and three aces.
White said Pope put up a strong effort against a strong and skilled Lassiter team.
“Our serving was great and, overall, it was just a great effort,” he said. “Lassiter is going to far in the playoffs”
White said the intensity of the region championship was similar to that of a different kind of the state championship.
“It was such a tough match, but it was a really great one,” he said. “Tonight was almost like a state championship.”