In the first set of its Class AAAAAA state semifinal match against Johns Creek, the Lady Hoyas looked out of sorts and fell 25-18. But they bounced back in the second set, winning by a two-point margin, before fully taking over momentum after a brief intermission.
Once Harrison settled in after its second-set win, it reverted to the type of play that had carried it this far, and it went on to beat the Lady Gladiators 18-25,
25-23, 25-16, 25-21 at Chattahoochee High School.
Back in the state finals for the second straight year, Harrison (49-6) will get another shot at Walton in Monday’s championship at McEachern High School. The Lady Hoyas lost a five-setter to the Lady Raiders in last year’s match.
“I’m hoping we can come out with a ring this time,” said outside hitter Caroline Ostman, who led Harrison with 17 kills against Johns Creek (42-9).
While Harrison used the 10-minute intermission after the second set to settle its nerves, the turning point of the match came during the final points of the second set.
The Lady Hoyas appeared to be in control of things, having won three straight points to take a 23-20 lead, but a controversial call went in Johns Creek’s favor.
Harrison coach Clay Taylor reacted negatively was given a yellow card by the official, Johns Creek caught Harrison off guard, and it won three straight points to tie the set at 23-all.
“The same thing happened against North Cobb (in the area tournament),” Ostman said of Taylor being yellow-carded. “We got upset, played hard and won it for him.”
Ostman then delivered a kill in arguably the biggest point of the match to give the Lady Hoyas set point. Harrison then won the set on a hitting error by Johns Creek’s Annika Olsen.
It was the kind of momentum Harrison needed going into the break.
“At the break, the girls talked about relaxing and playing their speed of the game,” Taylor said. “We let Johns Creek dictate us for the first two sets, and that’s not how we play.”
Harrison came out a different team in the third and fourth sets, forcing Johns Creek to feed the Lady Hoyas more free balls.
Early service runs by Harrison in the latter two sets allowed the Lady Hoyas to take command.
Kodi Smith joined Ostman with double-digit kills at 15. Kelly Scott dished out 32 assists, six kills, one solo block and three block-assists, Andie Karmel and Taylor Haskins each finished with five kills and Catherine Gallagher had seven digs.
Emily Cappal led Johns Creek with 16 kills and Olsen had nine. Sara Rogers had 36 assists, and Madeline Savage finished with 10 digs.