The Lady Raiders have yet to drop a set in the Class AAAAAA state tournament, and they continued their winning ways Saturday with a 25-16, 25-15, 25-11 victory over Lassiter in all-east Cobb match of the state quarterfinals.
Since surviving a five-set battle against Roswell in the Area 4AAAAAA tournament final, Walton (42-6) has yet to allow 20 or more points in a set in its playoff wins over Druid Hills, McEachern and Lassiter.
Top-seeded Walton will now host No. 4 seed South Forsyth, which defeated Harrison in a five-set thriller, in Wednesday’s semifinal.
“All aspects of our game were really consistent,” Walton coach Suzanne Fitzgerald said. “Emotionally, we’re where we want to be, and we have players that are so passionate. When we can harness that, we’re tough to beat.”
Walton’s offense was spread out, led by Jessica Sloan’s 10 kills and three aces. Lindsay Seagraves finished with nine kills, Brooke Landon had seven and Leah Jackson finished with four kills and two blocks.
The Lady Raiders are at their best when they string together service runs. Their aggressive serving sets up their offense, and they can sometimes get quick kills off free balls sent their way.
Walton took charge of the first set on an early three-point service run by Dalaney Hans and put it out of reach on a four-point run by Seagraves, which gave the Lady Raiders a 20-9 lead.
Eighth-seeded Lassiter (32-22) kept up with Walton during the first 19 points of the second set — an ace by Annie Chandler cut Walton’s lead to 11-9. But a three-point run on Celeste Fitzgerald’s serve — with all three points coming on Lassiter hitting errors — gave Walton a five-point lead at 14-9.
Walton appeared more dominant on serve in the third set, despite Lassiter taking a 2-0 lead on Caylee Yanes’ ace. With the score even at 4-all, the Lady Raiders opened up a seven-point lead on Hans’ serve. Hans served two aces during the run, with the first bouncing off the top of the net and hitting Lassiter’s side of the floor.
“They’re a great team,” Lassiter coach Greg Hodge said. “They forced us into making bad plays and they beat us, but I’m proud of the way we competed.”
Freshman Libby Bochniak led Lassiter with 10 kills. Alexus Holt, another freshman, added three kills, a block and an ace. Senior Becca Ledford chipped in with six kills and a block-assist in her final match as a Lady Trojan.
With three freshmen getting ample playing time this season, and another recently getting promoted from the JV squad, Lassiter’s future looks promising.
“They’re going to help us,” Hodge said of his freshmen. “I’m pleased with where we are and where we are going.”