Praising her players for their effort and their performance, and complimenting the home crowd for providing the energetic atmosphere worthy of a Final Four, the only component missing to Columbus volleyball coach Donna Fleming’s wonderful Tuesday night was a happier final score.
Marist prevailed in this intense Georgia Class AAAA semifinal match, 25-19, 21-25, 25-20 and 25-23.
“The girls played really hard, and they did the best they could,” Fleming said. “It was within their grasp, but they weren’t able to finish it.”
After reclaiming the Region 1-AAAA championship from crosstown rival Northside, sweeping their first-round and second-round matches state playoff matches, then advancing to the 10th Final Four in Fleming’s 16 seasons since starting the program, the Blue Devils came up short in their quest for a seventh championship match appearance and fourth state title.
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“They played their hearts out,” Fleming said. “They had a fantastic season. They ended up 44-9. They have nothing to hang their heads about.”
Fleming gave credit to Marist, the defending Class AAAA state champion.
“Marist was a very solid team,” she said. “Bottom line, we probably made more errors than they made, but we were still in it. . . . They’re a strong team, and we’re a strong team, and we battled it out. Tonight, they were the better team, but our girls fought every point. I’m really proud of that. They never quit.”
Statistical leaders for the Blue Devils in Tuesday’s match were senior middle blocker Tierra White (11 kills, 5 blocks), junior outside hitter Savannah Ogle (18 kills, 2 aces, 1 block) and junior setter Ashley Cox (39 assists, 4 kills, 1 ace).
LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL SCHEDULE
Thursday, Nov. 1
Jordan vs. Spencer, Kinnett Stadium, 7 p.m.
Friday Nov. 2
Columbus vs. Northside, Kinnett Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Carver at Americus-Sumter, 7:30 p.m.
Kendrick at Pike County, 7:30 p.m.
Shaw at LaGrange, 7:30 p.m.
Dooly County at Brookstone, 7:30 p.m.
Taylor County at Pacelli, 7:30 p.m.
Chattahoochee County at Stewart County, 7:30 p.m.
Macon County at Manchester, 7:30 p.m.
Schley County at Marion County, 7:30 p.m.
Flint River at Calvary Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Russell County at Booker T. Washington, 8 p.m.
Smiths Station at Eufaula, 8 p.m.
Glenwood at Pike Liberal Arts, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 3
Hardaway vs. Westover, Kinnett Stadium, 11 a.m.
Friday, Nov. 2, and Saturday, Nov. 3
State championship meets at Carrollton.
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.