The history between Lassiter and Walton is long and storied. Coach Hodge and Coach Fitzgerald have known and coached against each other for nearly 15 years. The rivalry is real and the student section obliged by turning their backs on the opposing team during introductions. It was a heated showdown of emotions and athletics. Coach Hodge said before the match that he “wanted it to be a good show.” And despite losing the match 3-0, Lassiter has nothing to hand their head about. They played well, they gave the Raiders a tough match, and the fans got to see the “good show” Coach Hodge was wanting. It was a win and an affirmation for both programs that good things are happening in East Cobb volleyball.
The Walton volleyball team won their fifth straight state championship in a row on Saturday—a half of decade of domination in the state for the program. With the departure of many key seniors last year, it might have been wondered if the volleyball program could be as strong this year. However, with incredible training and preparation in the offseason and during the year, Coach Fitzgerald and the Raiders find themselves once again atop Georgia 7A volleyball.
Team chemistry continues to be an asset for these players. Despite a rough start in the first set, trailing 5-0 through the first points of the match, the Raiders never lost confidence in one another and lifted each other up throughout the night. After a slow start out of the gate, the Raiders found their stride, winning seven points in a row at one point in the set.
Senior striker Phoebe Awolyee, committed to play volleyball at the University of Georgia, blasted multiple feeds past Trojan defenders, giving them no chance to return the ball. Junior defensive specialist Emory Dupes also played well in the victory, saving many balls that would have resulted in points for the Trojans that the Raiders turned into points. The Raiders won the first set 25-18.
In the second set, the trend of the game continued, with the Raiders falling behind early 4-0. Yet again, the girls remained calm and focused. Senior outside hitter Sydney Barrett had a strong second set, blocking multiple balls at the net to swing the momentum in favor of the Raiders. The Raiders offense galvanized in the second half of the set. Their strikers produced many kills at the net, dampening the spirit of both the Lassiter players and student section, with a score of 25-17 at the end of the set.
The Raiders quickly finished the third set with a score of 25-12, leading 20-9 at one point. While the excitement of such momentum could have threatened their focus, the Raiders remained disciplined until the final whistle and were once again Georgia 7A State Champions. Congratulations!