MARIETTA — Pope continued its dominance in the Region 6AAAAAA tournament Wednesday as it defeated Allatoona 3-0 to advance to the championship match.
The Lady Greyhounds (35-7) won 25-17, 25-13, 25-21 and continued the momentum from their second-round sweep of Sprayberry on Tuesday.
Pope moved on to face Kennesaw Mountain on Thursday for the title, after the Lady Mustangs knocked off Lassiter in the other semifinal.
“This is the product of the work we have been doing all season,” Pope coach Erica Miller said. “It’s all the training, all the practices, the wins and the losses. They put it all together (Wednesday) and did what they are capable of doing.”
Senior middle blocker Ayanna Rogers was the star of the match. It was not Rodgers’ first strong performance as she entered the match with 320 kills, 43 assists, and 21 blocks.
“I am super proud of her,” Miller said. “She is known for kills and blocks, so I was very excited to see how versatile she was tonight.”
The first set went back-and-forth until Pope began to take advantage of miscommunication by Allatoona (24-11) to take a 17-12 lead.
Once the Lady Greyhounds took a five-point lead, they continued to apply pressure, spiking the ball down the middle, honing in on the holes in the Allatoona defense.
The Lady Buccaneers tried to rally at the tail end of the set, but service errors and not being able to block at the net led to Lady Greyhounds taking the first set.
Allatoona held its own early in the second set. Continuing to bring the pressure at the net and in the back court the Lady Buccaneers went on a 3-0 run, giving them their first lead of the night at 8-5.
Allatoona’s momentum slowly dissipated as offensive miscues and defensive errors began to show. Overpowered hits going outside the boundaries and missed digs allowed Pope to get back in the set.
Once the Lady Greyhounds gained control, they went on a 8-0 run to make it 13-8 in the middle of the set. After Allatoona pulled back within two, key digs from Rodgers gave Pope the momentum to finish the set and take a 2-0 lead.
Pope came out hot in the third, hitting shots in the outside corners, allowing it to go on a 6-0 run for a 9-2 lead. Allatoona spread the floor, which helped to make key blocks at the net and low digs in the back court to put it within one.
Now leading 15-14, the Lady Buccaneers went on a 3-0 run, forcing Pope to take their first time out of the night.
The Lady Greyhounds responded with a 9-0 run to lead 23-19 before closing out the match.
“Sometimes, it is not the mistakes we make, but it’s who we are playing,” Allatoona coach Joe Soley said. “We saw fear on players’ faces. That’s why we had to call a lot of timeouts. You’re playing against a team (Pope) who is going out there to have fun and laughing, and we are just scared to death. We just felt we had to do everything perfectly, and that was really a downfall (Wednesday).”