In the past, the Cobb County Volleyball Championships has been used as a mid-season evaluation for teams.
This season, the county championships will be used as an early-season test.
Normally played at the end of September when area competition is coming to a close, the county tournament will take place this coming Saturday before area play begins.
The decision to move the county championships to late August wasn’t intentional. Saturday happened to be the day that all 16 teams participating in the event were available, North Cobb coach James Auld said.
But instead of being a twoday tournament with round robin matches held Thursday at various locations and finishing up bracket play on Saturday, all matches will take place in one day at Marietta High School. Auld said the oneday format gave teams an extra day to schedule another one-day tournament or a non-area match.
The tournament will be broken into four four-team pools. Round robin matches will be held in the morning and bracket play will be in the afternoon.
“Marietta having a four-court facility makes having a one-day tournament possible,” Auld said. “The only drawback to the format is that the gold and silver bracket finalist will play six matches in one day. We will give it a run and see if we like it.”
Four-time defending state champion Walton is scheduled to play in the county tournament for the first time since 2009. The presence of the Lady Raiders is expected to make the tournament stronger.
Pope, which won five straight county titles before a rash of injuries last season prevented the Lady Greyhounds from capturing their sixth straight, and Harrison, which defeated North Cobb in the championship last season join Walton as the top three teams. The Hoyas also played for county championships in 2010 and 2012, losing to Pope both times.
With Walton not quite as deep as in years past, Harrison is favored to defend last year’s title with most of its weapons returning from last season, including outside hitter and Georgiacommitment Caroline Ostman. The Lady Hoyas are off to an undefeated start and that’s likely to continue going into the tournament.
“We still have a long ways to go,” Harrison coach Clay Taylor. “We have a lot of things we need to work on as a team. We’ve been fortunate in a couple of matches where our experience as a group as paid off. This will give us a look at everyone in the county like Walton, North Cobb and Lassiter, who will go deep in the state tournament.”
Although Pope has gotten off to a slower start, the Greyhounds are healthy with many of last year’s injured players healthy, including setter Morgan Dees.
Coach Bryan Jones said the Lady Greyhounds are solid defensively and serving the ball well, but they’re still trying to develop a more versatile offensive attack.
And Saturday’s tournament will also be a precursor of what Pope will see in its new Area 5AAAAAA.
“It will give us a look at teams that we will be sharing our area with,” Jones said. “Even if we don’t play them, we’ll get a sneak peek at Walton and Lassiter and what to expect for when we face them.”