South Forsyth volleyball’s playoff aspirations are such that, even now, in the throes of the state playoffs, the Lady War Eagles are trying to implement new things. After Tuesday’s 25-12, 25-15, 25-14 sweep of Pope in the Class AAAAAA second round, South head coach Kelly Wren knows each team remaining in the state playoffs either already has intel on the Lady War Eagles or knows someone who can provide it. Best to have some surprises ready.
That’s what the Lady War Eagles were working on late in the third set as Savian Jordan lurked behind Shea McNamara on the left side. A set from Courtney Darling went into the air but drifted above McNamara beyond the Auburn commit’s considerable reach. In practice, Wren had seen the timing on the play between Darling and McNamara was still a work in progress, so she inserted Jordan behind McNamara for back-up.
As McNamara turned to watch the ball sail over her, Jordan reacted and leapt to push a set over the net for a point that stunned Pope, the crowd, maybe even Jordan. She danced toward center court surrounded by teammates.
“It worked out to be a trick play,” Wren said.
All of South’s tricks were working Tuesday, even the ones that still need polish. The Lady War Eagles (39-7) got offense in the middle from Avery Kline (three kills, two blocks) and McNamara (six kills), on the right side from Giana Frangipane (seven kills) or all over from Amanda Nugent (12 kills); stellar defense from Erin Yeatman (29 digs), Carley McCravey and Jordan; and aggressive serves from Jordan (four aces) and Rachel Ross (three aces).
The assortment of components on this South team appeared complete and devastating against Pope (20-22), and it has the Lady War Eagles in the state quarterfinals for the fourth straight season. The remaining eight teams will be reseeded Wednesday night, leaving South’s opponent Saturday still to be determined. Regardless, the Lady War Eagles expect to be one of the top seeds and have home-court advantage for as long as they can keep their season going.
“We come in confident,” Nugent said. “We respect all the teams that come in here, because you never know what people can bring. … But we come in confident because we have a very well-rounded team.”
South asserted itself against Pope with a 13-0 run in the first set in which the Lady War Eagles utilized every element at their disposal. Jordan had three aces, all short ones placed in front of Pope’s unsuspecting back row. Nugent had two kills. Kline had a kill and a block. Frangipane had a kill. Darling had a deft tip. By the end, South’s 10-9 lead became a 23-9 cushion.
The Lady War Eagles were crisp from there on. They took a scrappy second set in which South led by as much as 15-6. They generally cruised through the third and decisive set, the tone of which McNamara determined early on South’s third point with a thundering kill that made the home crowd roar.
“It was just clicking for us today,” Nugent said, “and when we might have missed a point we were coming back as fast as possible.”