WOODSTOCK - Before the rigors of the state playoffs, the volleyball teams in Cherokee County tested their mettle against one another.
Two of the best teams in the state faced off Thursday night at Etowah, defeated on the first day of the county tournament. Sequoyah (30-1) beat Etowah (28-12) in straight sets (25-17, 25-22) in the third and final match of the day.
The Lady Chiefs, ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAAA, held off a second-set comeback attempt by Etowah, the No. 3-ranked team in Class AAAAAAA, and for a team with a number of freshmen in the starting lineup, the composure displayed was impressive.
“We’ve done that all year, and I’m almost not surprised anymore because I just know our kids,” Sequoyah coach John Edwards said. “It’s one of those things where, if they don’t look worried, I’m not going to worry. Even when Etowah won four or five points in a row, our body language, communication and energy level stayed the same. It gives a coach a certain peace to know your kids can work through it.”
Sequoyah was led by the Powers sisters. Aliie, a senior, finished with a team-high 12 kills and tallied seven digs, while Paige, a junior, recorded nine kills and 10 digs.
The freshman trio of Skylar Martin, Taylor Pecht and Sara Siefert continued to play beyond their years. Pecht led the team with 31 assists, Martin led with three aces and Seifert finished tied for second with nine kills.
Etowah was led, as usual, by all-state senior Savannah Bray, who finished with nine kills and 12 digs. The Lady Eagles defeated Creekview 25-11, 25-5 in the first match of the day.
The showdown between Sequoyah and Etowah was likely an early county championship match. Both will play three more matches Saturday against Cherokee, River Ridge and Woodstock, and if both win out, Sequoyah will hold the tiebreaker.
The second and final day of the tournament will be held Saturday with all ,six teams on location and matches beginning at 9 a.m.
Edwards said he has been impressed by his team’s acumen since the season’s earliest practices. The win over Etowah was undoubtedly a bullet point on an already impressive resume for the Lady Chiefs.
“(Etowah is) ranked No. 3 in AAAAAAA for a reason,” Edwards said. “They’ve had some big wins this year, and that’s a good team. They’re tall and have multiple people who can swing at the net. I think it says a lot about our level of focus today to come and get a big win like this on the road.
“It says a lot about our players individually because they all want to be really good. They’re all just really smart when it comes to playing volleyball. They put the work in and they critique the game instead of just watching it. It’s just a lot of fun watching them play.”
Other scores from Day 1:
Sequoyah def. Creekview 25-8, 25-13
Etowah def. Creekview 25-11, 25-5
Cherokee defeated Woodstock 22-25, 25-17, 15-10
River Ridge defeated Cherokee 25-21, 17-25, 15-13
River Ridge defeated Woodstock 25-20, 25-23