In the end, though, Harrison got the last laugh.
The Lady Hoyas mounted two impressive rallies in the first set and used a late second-set push to hold off the Lady Warriors 26-24, 25-23 at North Cobb.
The second set was a chess match after Harrison (20-1, 2-0) battled back from eight-point and four-point deficits in the first set.
Both teams adjusted throughout the second set to try to swing the momentum to their side of the net. They exchanged long service runs and leads throughout the set before Harrison’s timely run ended the match.
After North Cobb (20-4, 1-1) trimmed Harrison’s lead to 22-21, Alexis Ryan came through with a timely first-ball kill to extend the Lady Hoyas’ lead. Afterward, they caught a huge break when North Cobb committed a hitting error to give the Lady Hoyas match point.
North Cobb fought one off match point before Harrison setter Kelly Scott won it on a two-handed dump over the net.
“(North Cobb) made a couple of mistakes in the end,” Harrison coach Clay Taylor said. “They hit one into the net, and that gave us our extra push.”
Ryan, who has committed to play sand volleyball at Florida State next year, led with 12 kills, and the Lady Hoyas were at their best when she was on target. Scott and Caroline Ostman each had six kills, while Scott also delivered 18 assists.
Tori Forrest led North Cobb with seven kills, while Katie O’Rourke and Samantha Fitzgerald each had four and Lauren Schmitz totaled 14 assists. O’Rourke and Schmitz each had two block-assists.
North Cobb did virtually everything right to start the first set. The Lady Warriors set up their offense with timely passing and got many first-ball kills against Harrison’s serve.
Once Harrison adjusted and started serving better, the Lady Hoyas began cutting into North Cobb’s lead.
After trailing 16-8 at one point, Harrison made its first move on Ryan’s serve when Ostman came through with a solo block, followed by back-to-back kills to trim North Cobb’s lead again. Harrison got within one on its next service run when Megan Bright hit two untouched aces in a row.
“The middle points are big, because people start strong and push at the end,” North Cobb coach James Auld said. “We took a leave of absence with our passing (during the middle points). Our errors are preventable. At least we know what to work on.”
North Cobb took advantage of some Harrison miscues to reclaim a four-point lead at 23-19, but Harrison once again rallied on some timely offensive plays, and a solo block by Bright thwarted a Forrest kill attempt and tied the score at 23-all.
The Lady Warriors gained set point at 24-23 before Harrison saved it on a back-row kill by Ryan. Scott then took over by hitting a winner for Harrison’s first set point and finishing it off with an ace.
“We got kids who play at a high level and know how to play from behind,” Taylor said.
North Cobb salvaged its tri-match later in the evening, beating Hillgrove 25-14, 25-20, while Harrison beat Marietta 25-8, 25-21.