Greenbrier volleyball coach Debbie Born has been coaching 24 years, but she is quick to acknowledge two career bests from this season’s squad.
The Lady Wolfpack overcame the loss of five seniors from a 38-2 team that advanced to the third round of the Class AAAAA playoffs last season, repeating a trip to the third round this year with a team that Born said learned and grew together as the season progressed.
“Nobody ever expected us to get this far,” she said. “Nobody expected us to win the region tournament. We’ve had a lot of pluses this year. It was a lot of growing pains this season, but that’s what your season is about. I had to do a lot of teaching this year, but that’s OK. These girls finally got it when it counted.”
Greenbrier won the Region 2-AAAAA title and the first two games of the state tournament before bowing out to McIntosh in the third round on Saturday.
Born said the Lady Wolfpack’s second-round win over Northside-Columbus on Oct. 22 was the best comeback victory of her coaching career. Greenbrier was down 2-0 before climbing back to win 3-2 and advance.
“That win was exhilarating,” junior DeJhana Cotton said. “We never gave up on ourselves. We pushed through and worked really hard. I’m proud of my team.”
Born also said Cotton is the best middle blocker she has ever coached. Cotton was in position to take over the deciding game against Northside, and she did just that, leading the Lady Wolfpack to the win.
Greenbrier finished 28-15, 8-1 in Region 2-AAAAA, which is a far cry from the 9-11 start to the season. Born said things turned around during a Conyers, Ga., tournament, where she simply told her team things had to change. The Lady Wolfpack overcame the brief loss of Cotton because of injury and, once she returned, they finished 19-4.
BACK AGAIN: Following a Region 5-AAAA title, Aiken’s volleyball team is back in a familiar spot as a No. 1 seed in the Class AAAA playoffs.
The Lady Hornets play host to Spring Valley in the first round of the state tournament on Tuesday at 7 p.m. after wrapping up the regular season at 39-4, 10-0 in the region.
Aiken is attempting to win one game more than last season after losing to Hillcrest in the state championship for the second consecutive year. The Lady Hornets won the state title in 2010.
Also in the Class AAAA playoffs is South Aiken, which travels to Carolina Forest on Tuesday.
STILL ROLLING: Harlem softball is making a return trip to Columbus, Ga., in the state playoffs, seeking more than just an Elite Eight appearance.
The Lady Bulldogs, currently 28-6, will play Bremen in the third round of the Class AA playoffs on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. The Lady Blue Devils are 20-11 and finished 10-2 in Region 5-AA.
Harlem lost two of three in the Elite Eight last season to fall short of the Final Four.
SUCCEEDING EARLY: Westminster sophomore Evan Downs took home another individual title by winning the GISA AAA cross country championship on Saturday, logging a time of 17:07.
Downs previously won the Region 4-AAA title on Oct. 19 for the second consecutive year. He became the youngest Male Athlete of the Year in Westminster history as a freshman in May, as he was named All-State in cross country and golf, and All-Region in those two sports and track.