"It's the start of a new one," Cavaliers junior Emily Shafer said after her team's 3-1 loss to Calvary Christian. "We've got a good team coming back."
Augusta Prep started the state semifinal and final matches Saturday as two-time defending state champion. And the Cavaliers were playing host to their shot at a third consecutive title.
The Cavaliers were dominant, beating Dominion Christian three games to none in the semifinal.
Calvary Christian, No. 1 in the latest GISA coaches' poll, survived a gritty semifinal to beat Pinecrest in five games, and outlasted Augusta Prep in the final.
"All teams that win championships that are successful are going to find out eventually -- one, it's hard to climb that mountain, and two, it's hard to stay on top," Cavaliers coach Rich Bland said.
Augusta Prep graduated two all-state players from last season's title team, but returned a tall front line that the Knights thought might give them trouble.
But Calvary Christian exploited what it saw as a hole in the middle of the Cavaliers' defense The teams split the first two games before the Knights pulled away to win the last two, 25-18, 25-17.
Bland thought the outcome could have been different in the first and third games. The Cavaliers led by as many as four points in Game 1 before falling 28-26. In Game 3, Bland's team held a 14-7 advantage but was outscored 18-4 the rest of the way.
Each time the Knights found themselves down, coach Megan Moore would call a timeout and regroup. Each time, her team responded.
"Just play with heart -- that's what I told my girls," Moore said. "We're a family."
The Knights' semifinal match took its toll. After their 15-12 win in Game 5, junior Ivey Roper suffered an asthma attack.
Moore told her team to find something to eat and rest while waiting out the Cavaliers' semifinal. A 30-minute break before the final helped. And Moore's team came out rested for the final.
"We knew they were going to be really tough," Shafer said. "We came out prepared, but they were just better."
Reach Stephen Fastenau at (706) 863-6165 ext. 116 or firstname.lastname@example.org.