For Walker’s volleyball team, it’s all about the rally turtle.
With the inspiration from its stuffed turtle, Tally-Mo, Walker used momentum to carry itself past Hebron Christian 25-15, 25-14, 25-16 in the semifinals of the Class A state playoffs Wednesday at Pinecrest Academy.
The Lady Wolverines (34-7) advanced to face Landmark Christian for the title Saturday at Marietta High School.
It will mark Walker’s first time in the state championship match after several final four appearances.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be going to the state finals,” Walker coach Karen Arndt said. “The girls made playing on that final Saturday of the season their goal from Day 1. Now, we have one final thing to do, and that’s to win. They’ve given themselves this chance and played hard all season. It’s time to leave it all out on the floor.”
Behind strong play at the net and a brilliant service game from Anna Chocallo and Brielle Bowerman, the Lady Wolverines managed to pull away from Hebron (38-12) in every set.
Chocallo totaled 23 digs with seven aces, while Bowerman added five aces. The duo combined to win 30 points for the Lady Wolverines on serve-receive, and Chocallo contributed 17 of those points.
“(Chocallo’s) our glue on defense and sets up our attack on offense,” Arndt said of the junior libero. “She knew where to put the ball on her serve to give us our best chance at winning the point.”
Walker also received solid contributions up front as Sasha Fazylov totaled seven kills and two aces, while Paige Warner had 15 kills and four blocks. Brooke Warner added five kills, an ace and had 20 assists.
“Our focus the whole game was to stay aggressive the entire match,” Arndt said. “That made a huge difference in the way we played and the way were able to attack.”
The game plan worked well right from the start as the Lady Wolverines took a quick 3-0 lead in the first set and extended it to 18-8 after an ace from Bowerman.
Hebron rallied behind Eden Murray, who led the Lady Tigers with 13 kills, and it pulled within 20-15 after a Walker attack error.
However, the Lady Wolverines won five straight points, including four off Fazylov’s serve, and her ace clinched the first set.
Walker opened the second set well, too, en route to an 8-3 advantage, but Hebron found a way to get past the Warner sisters — who both stand 6-foot-1 — patrolling the net and crept back into the contest. The Lady Lions took their first lead of the match at 11-10 following a Walker attack error, and Arndt called a timeout to settle down her team.
“We’re big on the net,” the coach said. “(Hebron) tried to walk around it by tapping it over (the Warner sisters), but we adjusted and didn’t let it hurt us too much. We work hard on solidifying the block, and other teams have to account for their height.
“During the timeout, I told the girls to go back to being aggressive. We got a little careful and let them back into it. I told them to just finish the point.”
Following the timeout, Brooke Warner earned a kill off an Erin Leavell assist to spark a 9-0 run that gave the Lady Wolverines a 19-11 margin. Chocallo served for eight of those points and picked up three of her aces during the spurt.
Leading 20-12, Walker won five of the final seven points, and Bowerman’s ace punctuated the set win amid Hebron’s miscommunication along the back line.
Walker gradually pulled away in the third set after a 3-all tie. Leading 14-9, the Lady Wolverines won four straight points to go up 18-9 before settling on the third-set victory.
Bridgette Oduro added eight kills for Hebron, and Anna Katherine Wilson had 18 assists.