Mount Paran, Sandy Creek, Mount Pisgah capture GHSA volleyball championships

Mt. Paran Christian continued its dominance and secured the program’s third straight volleyball state title with a 3-1 victory over Landmark Christian in the Class 2A championship set Friday at the LakePoint Sports Complex in Emerson.

The Eagles, out of Area 6, took home their second straight title in Class 2A after winning the Class A Private championship in 2021. Mt. Paran took the first two sets 25-11 and 25-17 before Landmark Christian responded with a 25-21 victory in the third set. The Eagles weathered a tight fourth set that was tied at 23-23 before Mt. Paran took the last two points to win the title.

“I’m so happy for these seniors, specifically because this is three in a row for all five of them, and they just really set the standard for our program for the younger girls,” Mt. Paran head coach Selina Chancy said.

“They really showed them what it takes to be a championship team season after season. I’m just happy for them that they were able to pull it off again.”

Those five seniors — setter Kaitlyn Moran, libero Sadie Parkerson, defensive specialist/setter Alexis Stubbs, outside hitter Sarah Schwartz and opposite hitter Annie Elliott — finished with a 44-9 record in their final season and were the wire-to-wire No. 1 team in the AJC’s weekly rankings. Landmark Christian, out of Area 2, finished with a 29-6 record. Mt. Paran won the teams’ only previous meeting this season, a 2-0 victory in August.

Chancy knew that Landmark Christian, ranked No. 2 in Class AA, would make a push after Mt. Paran cruised through the first two sets.

“I really wasn’t surprised that in the third set (Landmark Christian) came out fighting, because I knew they weren’t going to go home without a fight,” Chancy said. “And they really got some momentum. We just sort of outlasted the rallies a little better, kept the ball off the floor and kept getting it back over aggressively, and I think that was what gave us the edge.”

Chancy cited the defense from her senior class and team overall in helping them to the program’s fourth state title (the Eagles were Class A champions in 2018). She also lauded junior outside hitter Shelby Harris and junior middle blocker Samantha Buff for their defensive efforts.

“We just had some amazing digs, just full effort, not allowing the ball to hit the floor,” Chancy said.

According to Chancy, Elliott’s hitting in the first set gave the Eagles a boost early on, and the accuracy from freshman middle blocker/outside hitter Layla Dunn was also key.

Class 3A State Championship

Sandy Creek 3, Oconee County 0

Sandy Creek won three close sets — 25-23, 30-28 and 26-24 — to win the program’s fourth state title all-time and first since 2012 when it took its third title in five seasons. The Patriots, who did not drop a set in the state tournament, trailed 23-22 in the first set before rallying to take the final three points, culminating in a powerful kill from junior outside hitter Asia Harvey to put Sandy Creek ahead 1-0. In the second set, Sandy Creek had set point at a score of 24-18 before Oconee County stormed back to take a 25-24 lead. After more back-and-forth play, Sandy Creek eventually finished off the set with another Harvey kill to win the second set 30-28. Oconee County led 23-21 and had set point again at 24-22 in the third set, but Sandy Creek came back with four straight points, ending in a kill by senior outside hitter Skye Graham. Sandy Creek, of Region 5, finished with a 39-10 record, and Oconee County, of Region 8, finished with a 37-13 record. Sandy Creek and Oconee County began and ended the year as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, respectively, in Class 3A in the AJC rankings, and Oconee County finished as runner-up for the second season in a row. The Patriots won 2-0 in the teams’ previous meeting in August.

Class A State Championship

Mt. Pisgah 3, Whitefield Academy 1

Mt. Pisgah won its first-ever state title in volleyball with a 3-1 victory over Area 6 rival Whitefield Academy. The top-ranked Patriots finished 41-9 and surpassed their previous best finish, last year’s semifinals loss to eventual champion Tallulah Falls. Whitefield Academy, which finished 34-14, had never won a playoff match before this season’s finals appearance.

Mt. Pisgah took the title with a 25-16 victory in the first set, a 25-12 victory in the third set and a 25-23 victory in the fourth set. Whitefield Academy took the second set 25-21, the only set that Mt. Pisgah dropped in the state tournament. The final set saw Whitefield Academy take three straight points on match point to pull within one, 24-23, before Mt. Pisgah prevented the Wolfpack from pushing it to a fifth set. Lane Kruse led Pisgah with 25 kills, 13 digs and hit .404. Naveah Arnold had 24 assists, seven kills and 10 digs, Reghan Frazzetta had 18 assists and 10 digs and Adrianna Figurilli had 13 kills and seven digs.

Mt. Pisgah had defeated Whitefield Academy, both Area 6 rivals, in the teams’ previous two meetings this season.

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