The lost the Georgia High School Association’s AAAAA state volleyball title to defending champion on Saturday in a thrilling five-set match, 25-19, 20-25, 25-19, 21-25, 15-9.
The Lady Hoyas played with skill, poise, talent and tenacity but ultimately couldn’t overcome the Lady Raiders’ playoff experience during the match at Marietta High School.
Walton’s coach, Suzanne Fitzgerald, told the Marietta Daily Journal that the Raiders’ experience, including losing a five-set championship match to Pope two years ago, provided the winning edge.
Walton was the No. 1 seed, hadn’t lost a set during a 10-match winning streak leading to the final, and hadn’t dropped a set to a Georgia team since a 3-2 victory Sept. 1 over AAAA champion , which on the same court earlier Saturday.
But Harrison held the top ranking in the Prep Country/GACA coaches poll, and the Lady Hoyas came close to proving the coaches correct.
Harrison led 15-10 in the first set before the Lady Raiders scored eight points in a row, and Harrison never trailed in the second set.
The Raiders took the lead for good in the third set at 8-7 and seemed to have the match under control when they won the set by six points.
But in a back-and-forth fourth set, Harrison coach Clay Taylor called a timeout with a 17-16 lead, and his team won the next four points on the way to forcing the decisive fifth set.
Walton led only 8-7 and 10-8 in the final set before rolling to the title, thanks in part to a serve that hit the top of the net and trickled over for an ace.
The Lady Hoyas end the season with a 45-5 record. Three of the losses—two to Pope and Saturday’s to Walton—came against Georgia champions; one against crosstown rival , which ; and the fifth to a team from Alabama.
Harrison won the Area 5-AAAAA title and had a 17-match winning streak before Saturday’s loss.