Coming into this season, Varsity Volleyball Head Coach Rachel Vanderpol knew that it would be a challenge to repeat at State Champions. The Spartans captured the AAA State Title last year, and returned several key contributors. Despite the experience, moving up to AAAAA presented a new challenge for GAC's volleyball program and their backs were against the wall during the State Championship match on November 5th.
GAC faced a fellow Region-6 team in Chattahoochee High School, at Lakepoint Sports Complex. The Spartans lost to Chattahoochee during second round of the double-elimination Region Tournament, but were able to avenge that loss in the Region Championship game.
Facing Chattahoochee for the third time in the same season for the state title offered some problems, as the Spartans dropped the first set 21-25. GAC then quickly fell behind in the second set 21-12 before mounting a comeback for the ages to win 26-24. The battle continued into the third set, where GAC trailed once again 24-19. Another heroic comeback gave the Spartans another win 26-24. In what turned out to be the final frame, GAC took control from the start and won 25-18 in the fourth set.
Coach Vanderpol captured her second state championship as a head coach, and her program is firmly on the map in the state of Georgia.
"When faced with extreme adversity beginning of the match, our girls dug their heels in and climbed their way back into the game a point at a time as an entire team. It took all members of our team to pull that win off. As a coach, I am obviously so proud of each kid on the team for winning a back to back state championship, but I am way more proud of their character and never giving up, despite being backed into a very difficult situation being down 11-21 and 19-24. It takes courage to stay in a battle when all odds are against you. This group of kids showing grit all season long, and how fitting to show such an extreme level of grit at the time it mattered most.”
Junior Gracie Rose had 15 kills in addition to 12 digs during the match, senior Naya Ohuabunwa added 10 kills and 5 blocks, along with fellow senior Kennedy Seymour who had 11 kills. Junior Maddie Burrough had 44 assists and 3 aces. Senior Lily Owenby added 11 digs as well.
For seniors Naya Ohuabunwa, Janie Stinchcomb, Lily Owenby, and Kennedy Seymour, this concludes their careers as GAC Volleyball players. They leave behind a legacy that includes two state championships, multiple region titles, and a multitude of other accolades.