STATE VOLLEYBALL: Elite Scholars Academy finishes runner-up in state after falling 3-1 to Coosa

By Darius Goodman of the Clayton News Daily

dgoodman@henryherald.com

COBB — Elite Scholars Academy placed it all on the line Saturday afternoon at the Class AA/A state championship match held at McEachern High School, however, the Lady Knights fell 3-1 after Coosa overcame the opening set Elite Scholars victory.

The Lady Knights did a number of things through the championship match early in the game but it wasn’t an easy day as Coosa County made sure to battle for the title.

Elite fell behind early in the opening set as Coosa appeared to have the program figured out. Although the Lady Knights got on the board with a No. 10 kill, the deficit stood at 5-1 and the Lady Knights struggled as net calls and a few tough errors plagued their attempts of building momentum.

When a ball fell between two players on a communication error and the deficit grew to 11-4, Elite finally snapped out of their championship stupor. The Lady Knights began flying around the court despite giving up more points but the vibe to comeback was there.

“If I can describe the energy, it was extremely high in the first set,” Elite Scholars head coach Yolanda Jenkins said. “That was a good thing. But trying to recreate that was the challenge. Especially when errors on either our part or not getting to balls that we should get to — it’s like deflating with every error. We played from behind before and we had to play from the set so I thought we had enough in us to do it again — we didn’t.”

The Lady Knights stopped Coosa who jumped ahead 14-6 and rapped off seven points to pull within 14-13, Coosa broke the momentum briefly but Elite forced a tie at 15-all quickly. Both sides traded scores and ties five times until a Coosa serve error handed the Lady Knights the lead.

Elite pulled ahead definitively in the set as Coosa struggled to keep pace in the 25-21 set one score.

From there, things fell apart for the Lady Knights offensively.

Elite opened the second set with the first score but after Coosa showed their prowess again Elite could do little as their opponent jumped out to a 10-5 lead. The Lady Knights crawled back to within one of the lead but after Coosa took the lead back 18-16 the hopes of the program were in vain.

Coosa took the second set 25-20 to tie the series up 1-1. Things looked to go back Elite’s way in the third set, a quick 4-0 lead soon turned into another battle as errors and Coosa’s well-placed hitting slowed the Lady Knights.

Once the Lady Knights grabbed a 12-8 lead, head coach Yolanda Jenkins called a timeout to setter her team down. The timeout worked as Elite tied the game up 12-12 but the Lady Knights couldn’t find a way back into the lead as Coosa easily pulled ahead 20-13. Despite pressuring the Lady Eagles for the lead, Elite fell behind 2-1 in the match as Coosa won the third set 25-21.

“Again, in the third set, we didn’t. Looking back I’m not trying to say we were too high,” Jenkins said. “We were definitely just tense. Even the energy from the bench and the crowd kinda made us get tenser. I kept telling them to relax and do the things that you’ve done all year, this was no different other than playing in a bigger arena. We seemed to get more tense with every point played in the match today. I don’t think we could have prepared for the atmosphere of the gym.”

Elite kept the fourth set close temporarily and early but once Coosa jumped ahead 14-11, the Lady Knights struggled to gain their footing in the 25-19 set four loss that handed Coosa the state title. Elite wound up as the No. 2 team in the state and that was something that Jenkins thought about long before the championship match.

“I thought about that when we made it to state and kept winning,” Jenkins said. “I was like, we’re no longer a secret. Elite was known for academics and not sports. Especially not volleyball. I knew then that the secret was out and I knew then that we would no longer be able to keep it a secret. I knew it was coming, now for us because we were so under the radar is to now try and maintain — we have to think we are better than we were this year. Every team is going to want to take us down. I understand that.”

2018 Volleyball Roster

Alexis Johnson
Amari Pickett
Carli Webb
Lauren Walton
Courtney Reid
Amber Love
Malaika Tognebou
Zakiya Freeman
Ranyla Griggs
Anisah Jester
Ezinne Ifi
Tobie Kassim
Amira Britten

Head Coach-Yolanda Jenkins     Dr. Shonda Shaw-Principal
Dr. Baker-Assistant Principal       Dr. Ramsey-Assistant Principal
Jason Greenlee –Athletic Director