Walton, Harrison begin trek toward Class AAAAAA rematch
by Adam Carrington
acarrington@mdjonline.com
October 14, 2013 11:49 PM | 1667 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Walton Raider senior Jessica Sloan (7) attempts a kill shot over a Roswell defender.  SPECIAL/Kent McCorkle
Walton Raider senior Jessica Sloan (7) attempts a kill shot over a Roswell defender. SPECIAL/Kent McCorkle
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The top 10-ranked teams in the state’s highest classification have favorable paths to the elite eight when the Class AAAAAA state volleyball tournament begins Thursday — especially Walton and Harrison.

Top-ranked Lady Raiders, who are vying for their fourth straight state championship, opens with Druid Hills at home and will either host Archer or McEachern in the second round Oct. 22.

Fourth-ranked Harrison, coming off consecutive trips to the state finals, will have to get through Dacula at home before welcoming either Mountain View or Luella.

Harrison is arguably the healthy as it’s been going into postseason. Kodi Smith is back on the floor after missing most of the season with a shoulder injury. Libero Jocelyn Mahayag recently twisted her ankle but is expected to be full strength this week. And having a healthier lineup could give Harrison a different look.

“We’re still trying to put a lineup together and that’s a work in progress,” Harrison coach Clay Taylor said. “Everybody is finding their place, which is not a challenge for us, but it gives us a different look that other teams haven’t seen and it should work in our advantage.”

North Cobb’s road in the first two rounds is slightly tougher than its Cobb County counterparts. After falling to Harrison in the 3AAAAAA tournament championship, the No. 7-ranked Lady Warriors will host Parkview in the opener and would welcome Etowah or play at Norcross in the second round if successful.

While North Cobb would likely be favored to beat all three teams, Etowah cracked the top 10 last week at No. 9 and Norcross went undefeated in Area 8AAAAAA play en route to winning the tournament.

Walton has cruised through most of its matches this season with the exception of two losses to Johns Creek, but had a stern test against Roswell in the Area 4AAAAAA championships before prevailing in five sets.

“We personally love having matches like Roswell because it gives us homework to do,” Walton coach Suzanne Fitzgerald said. “We have to keep working on our passing and serve receive and strengthen the emotional side of our game.”

Hitters Jessica Sloan and Lindsay Seagraves helped carry the Lady Raiders offensively against Roswell and will rely heavily on them if Walton should prevail a fourth straight year.

Lassiter made it out as the No. 3 seed in 4AAAAAA and could possibly scratch its way into the quarterfinals. The Trojans will play at Rockdale County, which lost to Norcross in the 8AAAAAA finals and Lassiter has a three-set win over Norcross this season.

Hillgrove, the No. 3 seed out of 3AAAAAA behind Harrison and North Cobb, isn’t so fortunate. The Lady Hawks drew third-ranked Johns Creek on the road and will have to confront the Lady Gladiators on the road.

Kennesaw Mountain, 3AAAAAA’s fifth seed, will open at Brookwood. If successful, the Lady Mustangs will likely have to go to Roswell, a team that took Walton to five sets in the 4AAAAAA final, in Round 2.

In Class AAAAAA, Pope is playing its best volleyball of the season. After an injury-prone regular season, the Lady Greyhounds nearly stunned Sequoyah in the 7AAAAA championship.

After settling for a five-set loss to AAAAA’s top-ranked Lady Chiefs, the Lady Greyhounds find themselves on a similar path as last year’s tournament. If they get through Effingham County at home in the first round Thursday, they will have a rematch against McIntosh, the team that beat Pope in the second round last year.

Only this time, they would have to play at 4AAAAA champion and No. 2 ranked McIntosh.

Allatoona is the No. 3 seed in 5AAAAA after going undefeated in area play and will play at Northside-Columbus in the first round. If the Lady Buccaneers win, they will go on the road to either Greenbrier or Stephenson, both of who are unranked.

Walker, ranked No. 2 in Class A, will host another ranked team in the first round, No. 8 Pace Academy, on Thursday. With a victory, the Lady Wolverines would host either Athens Academy or ninth-ranked Savannah Country Day.

If seventh-ranked Mount Paran Christian wins at home against Atlanta International in the first round, the Lady Eagles will either play at No. 6-ranked ELCA or host Greenville.



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