In as many said championship matches in the same time span, the Lady Warriors defeated the Lady Panthers.
Cherokee County swept Spring Garden 15-0, 15-6 to take the 2001 county crown.
The No. 1 seeded Centre girls overcame host Sand Rock and the Garden girls to reach the finals, while the Lady Panthers earned their title berth via wins over Cedar Bluff and the Lady Wildcats.
“I really noticed how the overall level of play in the county has improved over the last year,” pointed out CCHS head coach Jon Moseley. “Spring Garden always plays us tough. We struggled early in the day, and then some of our players who don’t start really got going. The finals were by far our best games of the day.
“[All-Tournament selections] Tadshi Dupree and Christian Wadkins played very well for us, as did [tournament most valuable player] Mandy Cothran. She had her usual all-around outstanding game, and she really comes through for us at tournaments. Mandy was the MVP of last year’s county tournament, and she’s even more improved.”
Spring Garden head coach Ricky Austin agreed with Moseley’s assessment of the current county volleyball talent.
“This was a very good tournament, because every county team has gotten better. CCHS is an excellent team, and it’s an honor just to play them. Of course, we wanted to win the title, but playing Cherokee County gives us an opportunity to step up our game. Jon does an outstanding job with his teams, and the best team usually wins.”
The Centre girls jumped out to an early lead in game 1 and never looked back, and two aces from Dupree and two kills from Wadkins secured the win.
Latrisha Abernathy’s ace put the Lady Panthers up 1-0, but that was the Garden’s last lead, with consecutive aces from Ashley Hellums giving CCHS a 9-2 advantage.
Spring Garden drew within 14-6, but Cothran’s kill sealed the championship trophy.
In game 1 of the Warrior/Panther semi-final, CCHS jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but the Garden battled back to make it 14-8 before kills from Jessica Griffith and Cothran delivered the Lady Warriors the final two points.
The Lady Panthers responded in game two, as Erin Robertson’s ace capped a 7-0 Garden.
A Gentry Sanford ace made it 10-2 and an Abernathy kill put the Garden up 10-5, but the veteran Centre squad chipped away until a Wadkins kill put CCHS ahead 13-12, and two Cothran spikes sent the Lady Warriors to the finals.
Game 1 of the Sand Rock /Spring Garden semi-final was perhaps the most exciting of the day, as the lead switched hands fourteen times before the Lady Panthers prevailed 20-18.
The game featured ties of 12-12, 14-14, 15-15, 16-16, 17-17 and 18-18 until aces from Abernathy and Robertson finally ended the marathon contest.
Three straight Garner kills in game 2 helped to spot Spring Garden a 12-5 lead before two aces from Haley Hincy and two kills from Amanda Crane brought the Rock within 12-9.
The Lady Panthers hung tough down the stretch, however, and the Garden secured a 15-10 victory that sent them to meet CCHS in the championship