By MATTHEW BROWN
Journal Sports Writer
Chances are, the competition for the GHSA AAAAA state volleyball tournament spots from Area 2-AAAAA will be heated this weekend at Greenbrier High.
While the Greenbrier Wolfpack, with just one match loss all season to a school from South Carolina, may be an odds on favorite to win the area championship, there are three other 20-win teams that call Houston County home heading in that direction.
One other school of a Columbia County base waiting for them is Grovetown High. The Warrior program, this past Saturday, visited the Houston County High gym for a series of area matches. After beating Northside in three games, Grovetown tangled with Tracy Fendley’s Warner Robins High Demonettes.
This match also went three full games, and in area contests the third game plays to a 25-point winning total. For Fendley, it was a matter of figuring out which Hill sister played the bigger role in the third-game win.
The first game went to Warner Robins 25-21, but the Warriors leveled things in the second game 25-20. Grovetown, as would be expected, carried the positive momentum into the third game with an early 4-2 lead. That despite a sideout score from Demonette senior Christina Murray and Megan Hill’s fine digging play.
Murray would earn a serve and ace Warner Robins to a lead at 5-4. Grovetown tied the score by hitting through the blocks for 8-8. But that’s as close as the Warriors would get; on what would be the winning rally Sophia Brumfield had a diving save off the floor leading to Hill’s scoring block.
But there was another Hill, freshman Megan’s older sister Kate. In a 5-0 run for Warner Robins, Kate smashed two kills at the net and hit through the Warrior blocks on Kara Walker’s assist. Megan would also score hitting a ball directly back to Grovetown’s side and converting her own set from Walker on the sideline (14-9).
Fendley also had significant contributions in this match from Kyana Kelley in the back row and up front by Iiesha McCray. On an assist from Murray, McCray scored an outside kill. That was part of a 5-2 Warner Robins run with two more smashing kills by Kate Hill (19-10).
Grovetown helped the Demonettes inch closer to the win with two service errors. It was fitting that Kate Hill ended it at 25-15 with one more outside hit.
That was as easy as it got for Warner Robins, even as it was its first match of the day while Grovetown was coming off the three-set win against Northside. The Warriors served two aces early in Game 1 with the Demonettes, but with Jada Everett scoring two points (including an ace), Murray and Brumfield blocking shots and the Hill sisters each contributing a kill, Warner Robins led 9-5.
Megan Hill went from setting things up as a defensive specialist to blocking one volleyball after another up close. Warner Robins took the longest rally of the game to lead 14-7, and Murray and Walker set each other up for two points to keep the margin at seven (17-10).
Grovetown gradually stole momentum and capped off a 7-1 run with a diagonal spike and a ball hit through the Demonette blocks. Warner Robins allowed a serve to hit inside the back line. Another Grovetown ace was the result of a let (ball hitting the net while going over,) and Warner Robins found themselves in a tie 20-20.
But with a 5-1 run, the Demonettes took the 1-0 match lead. Kelley had crucial backcourt passes, Megan Hill blocked for a point and Kate Hill scored with a crossing shot.
In Game 2, the Warriors shot out to a 6-0 lead and never trailed. Murray, Everett and M. Hill combined for the first WR point, but it stayed a six-point edge up to 11-5. M. Hill’s kill in the middle got her team going for a run to 12-10; Kelley and McCray making good saving passes and the Hills each scoring a point.
But the Demonettes couldn’t catch a break in a 6-1 Warrior run, one ended on Walker’s set to Murray (18-12). Grovetown led by nine when Murray served an ace, but though M. Hill had three kills all assisted by Logan Saunders, the Warriors leveled the match.
Host Houston County High defeated both Grovetown and Evans High 2-0 Saturday. Both games for the Bears against the Evans Knights ended 25-8.
Megan Clark served two aces amid Houston’s first 10 points of the day while Sydnie Hicks scored two kills. To lead 15-3, the Bears both scored against the blocks by Gabi Clevenger and a double block from her and Viviana Garcia.
Clevenger stayed active in the middle with three more kills to go with Clark’s third ace. Garcia set Lauren Vidmar for an outside shot, and to end it the freshman Lainey Choiniere aced a serve and set Garcia’s kill.
Down 4-3 early in Game 2, Clark had no less than three digs in one rally capped by Garcia’s shot inside the opposite sideline. The Bears ran off the next four points in a row with two points from Sierra Woodman and Garcia’s set to Clevenger. Garcia and Clevenger each served an ace for 14-6.
As Brittany Gordon scored up close for a sideout, Clark used a diving dig to set up match point. Choiniere did the honors of setting Garcia for a long ending kill.