Marist, St. Pius X Finish As State Volleyball Runners-up
Published: November 6, 2008
St. Pius X junior middle hitter Emily Schultz (#2) goes up for one of her seven kills in the semifinal match against Creekview High School, Canton. Pius won the match and advanced to the state finals where they lost to Woodward Academy, College Park, in three games. (Photo by Michael Alexander)
ATLANTA—In the Oct. 30 state volleyball semifinals that pitted Marist School against Sprayberry High School, Marietta, and St. Pius X High School against Creekview High School, Canton, both Marist and St. Pius were victorious.
Marist defeated Sprayberry 3-1, winning the first game 25-11. Sprayberry won the second game 25-14, and Marist won the next two 25-13 and 25-16. Junior outside hitter Laura Brown led the team with a .421 hitting percentage and senior outside hitter Paige Weiland led the team in kills with 13. Senior libero Nicole Choi provided 16 digs on defense and sophomore setter Meghan Connolly had six aces on the night.
St. Pius X beat Creekview 3-0, winning its games 25-18, 25-15 and 25-14. Senior outside hitters Ellen Marsau and Michele Barnes led the team with nine kills apiece while junior middle hitters Emily Schultz and Emily Cain had seven and six kills, respectively. Senior setter Hannah Sprague had 30 assists during the match and added nine digs defensively. Junior defensive specialist Kayte Brinkman served up five aces, and Cain served three.
In the state finals at Marietta High School, Nov. 1, both top-seeded Marist and St. Pius went down in defeat. Marist lost to Sandy Creek High School of Tyrone 3-1. Marist head coach Anna Bush cited four contributing factors in the loss—the absence of starting junior middle blocker Stephanie Word to a knee injury that shook up the team’s lineup, a questionable “non-call” near the end of game that was a momentum changer, her team’s 18 service errors (they typically average seven or eight per game), and with Marist up 21-17 in game four, Sandy Creek junior middle hitter Chanelle Smith served eight straight points to end the match.
Marist middle hitter Whitney Hagan had a hitting percentage of .750 with six kills and outside hitter Paige Weiland led the team with 16 kills. Choi led the defense with 18 digs. In the three games Marist lost, the margin was four points or less. Bush said, “The work ethic, character and spirit of this team was incredible. They never quit. I am very proud of how they fought all the way to the end. It’s disappointing to say the least, but it’s the risk we take every year when we set a goal of winning a state championship.” Marist finished the season 38-12.
Woodward Academy, College Park, defeated St. Pius 3-0 in their match. Pius head coach John Frederick thought Woodward played flawless volleyball to start the match and their confidence built from there. On the other hand, he thought his team got off to a slow start, and with all the emotions surrounding the state championship match, it became too difficult to turn things around. Frederick said, “We played very well in games two and three. It was just a case of playing against a team that was clicking on all cylinders. Overall, we have to be very pleased with how far we got this year. We took the program another level higher than we ever had before.” Frederick added, “With 12 returning players and a strong junior varsity and middle school team, we expect to stay at this level for years to come.” Schultz and Marsau led the team in kills with five each. Sprague provided 12 assists and junior defensive specialist Brandi Tyson had six digs on defense. Pius finished with a school record of 49 wins and 13 losses.