All-Bi-City volleyball: Columbus High sweeps major awards

dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 27, 2013 

When Columbus High won the Class AAAA volleyball state title at Marietta High in early November, middle blocker Brianna Gogins, fittingly, was responsible for the match's final point.

Leading two sets to one and down to the final point in Set 4, Gogins slammed the ball into the court on the other side of the net and raised her fist in victory.

It was the 379th kill of her senior season, the last of her impressive high school career, and it gave the Lady Blue Devils a finish they had experienced just once before in the program's history.

The rest of her statistics -- 91 blocks, 51 aces and 89 digs -- are equally impressive, as are the numerous accolades from around the state: Class AAAA player of the year, All-State, Georgia Senior All-Star, Area 3 player of the year. She has also signed to play at Florida International University.

Now, she can officially add the Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City player of the year to her list of honors. Her coach Donna Fleming, who has developed Columbus into a state power, is the All-Bi-City coach of the year.

It's a fitting end to a tandem that has produced such success at Columbus.

"It was awesome, indescribable," Gogins said at her signing ceremony recently of the feeling after scoring the final point at state. "I can't really say much. It was awesome. … It made my whole season."

Gogins and Fleming were easy selections for the awards when you consider all the accolades. One opposing coach, when told input on selections was always welcome, responded immediately with both of their names.

The Lady Blue Devils had their most wins since 2009 and their first state championship since 2007. Their trip to the finals was their second in a row after losing to Sandy Creek in 2012.

While volleyball is rapidly improving in the area, no other team can claim the level of success Flemings and Gogins were a part of at Columbus.

And Gogins was just one of many

individuals who stepped up on the team, which rotated 10 players in its starting lineup. Aside from Gogins, four others were named to the All-Bi-City first team.

After winning the state championship, Fleming praised the team's talent, willingness to work and cohesion.

"It's just such a committed group of girls," she said. "They love playing together. There's never any drama. They just come in and do what it takes to win."

It doesn't hurt to have a coach who puts the team in position to succeed against the state's best. Columbus regularly plays top opponents throughout the regular season to prepare for the state playoffs.

In 2013, Columbus played 18 matches against teams that played in their respective classifications' playoffs prior to the start of the postseason.

It was no surprise, then, that the Lady Blue Devils didn't lose a postseason set until the semifinals against Sandy Creek and lost only three overall.

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