Chapel Hill High School hosted the annual Douglas County Volleyball Tournament on Saturday. The Lady Panthers tore through the competition through pool play, going undefeated on the way to the title game, They did not drop a game over that run.
In the championship, the Lady Panthers took on the surprise squad of the tournament, Douglas County High School. The Lady Tigers were able to avenge several earlier season losses in pool play on the way to a 3-1 record, with their lone loss coming in an earlier game against CHHS.
Douglas County took it to Chapel Hill in the championship match. DC took the first game from the Lady Panthers, 25-15, a first for any county team this season. Chapel Hill rallied back, taking games two and three, winning 25-13 and 25-12.
“We wanted to win this tournament all four years that I have coached at Chapel Hill and we have never been able to do it until now so we are excited,” said CHHS coach Jeremy Anderson. “We knew we had a good enough team to do it, it was just a matter of the girls coming together and getting it done.”
In the opening game, Douglas County jumped out to a 3-0 lead as the Lady Panthers hit the ball out of bounds on each point. This would be a running theme for most of the game. Chapel Hill scored their first point when Kylah Maxwell-Brown crushed a ball at the net for a kill.
The Lady Panthers battled back to a one point game, but DC would pull away, taking an 8-3 advantage that included the longest rally of the night and a kill by Sierra Dubois.
The Lady Panthers cut the deficit to two points. Daryl Mitchell had a kill during the rally.
As the match went on, DC continued to pull away and Chapel Hill continued to reel the score in, but never taking a lead. The Lady Tigers went up 11-7 behind the blocking ability at the net by Kennedy Curtis. The Lady Panthers cut the deficit to 13-11 on a couple of kills by Maxwell-Brown. Curtis stopped the Lady Panther rally with a kill of her own.
Douglas County took over near the end of the game. At 20-15, DC’s Nana Barimah toed the service line and finished the match. She had one ace during the five point run, and several serves that were not returnable. The DC back line also played well, picking up many tough digs on hard hit balls by the Chapel Hill front which included Maxwell-Brown and Emily Austin.
“That first game was definitely our best performance of the year,” said DC coach Lee Spoor. “Maya and our middles were blocking Kylah very well and Maya was all over the court. MaryJo Pidgeon had a tone of digs and Mmachi [Okeke] had several kills. I could not have been happier after that game.”:
While DC came out with a top tier performance, the Lady Panthers were less than stellar out of the gate.”
“We gave Douglas County hope and they had a lot of momentum,” Anderson said. “They really took it to us that game and we kept making mistake after mistake.”
In the second game, the Lady Panthers built an early, 4-0 lead thanks to the service game of Mitchell. Douglas County struggled to return her shots. The Lady Tigers made the score 4-2 but Chapel Hill jumped back up by four.
At 6-2, DC made a comeback and one three separate occasions, pulled to within one point at 10-9, 12-11 and 14-13. During the first run, DC’s Okeke had a kill and and both Barimah and Dubois served well. In the second run, Curtis picked up a kill shot and Maya Jackson had a block. Chapel Hill aided the third Lady Tiger run by hitting the ball in the net and out of bounds.
The Lady Panthers found another level for the rest of the game. Mitchell toed the service line and did not leave it for the rest of the game. She picked up an ace and had several shots that could not be returned. Maxwell-Brown picked up three points on two kills and a soft shot over the front line of DC. Jackie Williams had a kill and a blocked shot for scores. Mitchell ended the game on a serve that the Lady Tigers hit out of bounds.
Douglas County jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first game but it would be nearly all Chapel Hill from there. The Lady Panthers took a 5-1 advantage behind Austin at the net. DC’s Jackson, who sets up most of the shots for the Lady Tigers, went down with a cramp in her fall when the score was 3-1. She was carried off the court but when reaching the sidelines was able to get up and she came back in without missing a serve. However, DC would not be able to mount much offense.
Chapel Hill took an 8-3 lead as Austin continued to score points. They were up 12-4 behind the serves of Micayla Davidson. The Lady Panthers took a 19-5 lead as Austin scored points from the service line. Chapel Hill cruised to the victory from there.
The Lady Panther win marked the first time Chapel Hill had won the county tourney since the trophy started getting handed out in 2001.
Chapel Hill opened the tourney with a straight set victory over New Manchester, winning 25-13 and 25-10. They defeated Alexander in the second match of pool play, winning both games, 25-15. Against DC in the third match, the Lady Panthers won 25-12 and 25-15. Chapel Hill closed out pool play with a 25-14 and 25-6 match victory over Lithia Springs. The Lady Panthers then pulled out the three set thriller over DC for the trophy. Anderson contributed the team’s success to two girls in particular, Maxwell-Brown and Mitchell.
“Daryl consistently made all the plays happen from start to finish. She led the team in serving and aces,” Anderson said. “Kylah led the team in kills and inspired everyone with her hits. Both of them are seniors and are captains on the team.”
Despite the two losses to Chapel Hill, overall the Lady Tigers of DC played very well Saturday. Douglas County opened pool play by avenging two earlier season match losses to Alexander. They defeated the Lady Cougars 25-15 in both games. The Lady Tigers took on Lithia Springs in the second game, winning 25-15 and 25-12. After falling to the Lady Panthers, DC rebounded with a hard fought game against New Manchester. Both teams put on long rallies and the Lady Tigers came from behind in both games to win, 25-23 and 25-16. DC ended a stellar night with a three set loss to Chapel Hill. The team served 90-percent for the tournament.
“I was very pleased with the girls,” Spoor said. “We beat who we needed to beat and fought well against Chapel Hill. That was the first win we have taken from them this year. The girls know each other very well and were having fun and that is all that matters..”
After opening with back-to-back losses to Douglas County and Chapel Hill Saturday morning, the Lady Cougars rebounded with three straight wins. They won their final two games of pool play, beating New Manchester in a 3-set marathon (25-13, 23-25 and 25-21) before taking down Lithia Springs in straight sets (25-6 and 25-18). In the third place match, AHS defeated New Manchester once again, this time in straight sets, 25-15 and 25-22. Morgan Blackley served well for the Lady Cougars all night long
“We struggled in the mourning but got it together and pulled out the wins,” said AHS coach Rikki-Lynn Baxter.
The Jaguars struggled Saturday, picking up only one victory. New Manchester opened with a loss to Chapel Hill but won a 3-set match with Lithia Springs (17-25, 25-19, and 25-20). The Jags then lost to Alexander and Douglas County, before falling to AHS again in the third place match. Amanda Tucker, Cynthia Serrano and Taiylar Hibbard all played well in the tourney.
“I believe we did not play our best today but I guess that is just part of the game,” said NMHS coach. “We had really good moments and then we had had flat moments. We played a lot of volleyball today and as long as the girls enjoy themselves that’s all that matters.”
The Lions went 0-4 in the tourney. They opened the tourney with a loss to New Manchester, before falling to DC, Alexander, and then Chapel Hill. Lithia had wont he tournament in each of the four previous seasons.