Ultimately, though, they couldn’t quite recover from a sluggish first two sets.
Walker couldn’t get any sort of offensive rhythm early on, but it fought its way back in the third set, and into extra points in the fourth, before Landmark prevailed 25-18, 25-17, 23-25, 27-25 at Marietta High School.
“I told them there were a lot of teams who had great seasons that wished they could be here,” Walker coach Karen Arndt said. “We were out of sync in the first two sets but fought hard in the third and fourth.”
The Lady Wolverines (34-8), who lost to a Class A team for the first time this season, struggled early when their setters kept getting called for touching the ball twice while attempting to pass the ball to their hitters. They got called for double-hits five times in the first set alone, and it seemed to take a mental toll throughout the first set.
Landmark setter Ellen Anderson also served lights-out in the opening set, which added to Walker’s problems. Anderson got her team started with a six-point run that give the Lady War Eagles (41-14) an early 7-4 lead.
Walker trailed in the first set until Anna Chacallo took serve. After Chacallo served the Lady Wolverines to a 3-0 lead, she went on another tear, and her third ace of the match gave Walker a 16-15 lead and a little momentum.
But Anderson served next, and she stopped Walker’s momentum with another six-point run that gave the Landmark a commanding 22-17 lead.
Walton was called twice more for a double-hit during Anderson’s second run, which hardly helped.
“We couldn’t find our rhythm,” Arndt said, “and I was trying to get them to stay focused and do the things they can control and let all the external things go.”
The second set started in Walker’s favor. The Lady Wolverines solved Anderson’s serving on the very first point when Brooke Warner hit a kill on the first pass, and Chacallo won two more points on serve for another 3-0 lead.
The Lady Wolverines led in the second set until Warner was called for touching the ball twice while trying to make a set. The double-hit call evened the second set at 5-all and Walker was never the same.
Landmark stormed out to an 8-5 lead that continued to build as its servers went on small runs. Walker managed to win just three service points for the rest of the set and made some uncharacteristic errors.
“We just talked about starting over in the third set,” said Paige Warner, who finished with 17 kills in her final match as a Lady Wolverine. “We had nothing to lose and everything to win.”
After rallying from a 14-9 deficit at one point in the third set, Walker took a 21-18 lead on a solo block by Brooke Warner and eventually won the third set by catching Landmark out of rotation.
Walker also trailed in the fourth set but saved its best volleyball for late, when it trailed at 24-21.
The Lady Wolverines saved the first match point when Paige Warner hit a tip for a winner to get the sideout. With Emma Graham serving, they saved another match point when Landmark committed a hitting error, and Walker tied it at 24-all on a serve-receive error by the Lady War Eagles.
Walker had a chance to send the match to a final set after Sasha Fazylov hit her 11th kill, but Landmark saved it when the Lady Wolverines couldn’t get a block down.
Landmark got another chance to win on a Tiffany Creamer kill, and Abby Johns won it by serving an untouched ace that landed on the line.
Creamer led Landmark with 26 kills and three service aces. Lilly Kessler added 13 more kills.