The loss wrapped what was a tremendous season for the Lady Gladiators, putting together a 42-9 record, capturing an Area Championship in the state’s most competitive region and advancing to the Final Four in their first season of play in the state’s largest classification.
“It was a lot of back and forth [in the match],” said Johns Creek volleyball coach Beth Stephens. “We pulled ahead in the first game and really stuck it to them and all of the games were relatively close, but someone had to lose, and this time it was us.”
Johns Creek dominated the opening set 25-18 before the Lady Hoyas drew even with a close knit second set win 25-23. From there Harrison took over, winning the final two sets 25-16 and 25-21 to advance to the state championship match against Walton.
Emily Cappai led Johns Creek with 16 kills in the match and Annika Olsen had nine, Sara Rogers had 36 assists and Madeline Savage finished with 10 digs.
The defeat ended a seven-game winning streak for Johns Creek against some of the state’s stiffest competition. Through the last month, the Lady Gladiators upended archrival Chattahoochee in the area tournament, won the area championship over South Forsyth and won all three of their state playoff matches — against Collins Hill, Luella and Woodstock — in straight sets.
“I am so, so proud of my team and what they accomplished this season,” Stephens said. “We had a list of goals this season and we accomplished the last two (winning a tournament and winning Area) in the Area Championship game. Then our first three state playoff games were so much fun and it was great to see the student body get behind us.”
With the season ending so do the careers of a stellar senior class at Johns Creek that includes Kate Gulley, Cappai, Hannah Collins, Alexa Bramski, Marisa Savage, Ansley Maness and Rogers — a group that helped the program to a 159-46 record in four years (.776 winning percentage), four state playoff appearances and two trips to the Final Four.
“Seven seniors that have played volleyball all four years, three on varsity all four years. They all contributed to the success of our program and they will all be missed,” said Stephens.