Varsity volleyball shows potential, falls to Johns Creek and Columbus in home opener


Kristen Sherman

A Johns Creek player spikes another point for the away team. The Johns Creek Gladiators’ front line was in complete control throughout their 2-0 win against the struggling Panthers.

John Webb, Staff Writer

In a real test for the girls’ varsity volleyball squad, the Lady Panthers had not one, but two matches on Aug. 23. The first match came against Johns Creek, the eighth ranked team in the country and the number one ranked team in AAAAAA. The second match would be no break when the girls went head to head with the defending AAAAA state champions Columbus. These impressive rankings did not faze head coach Walt Ellison.

“They’re just like us,” Ellison said. “They hit the ball out just like we do.”

In a dominating fashion in game one, Johns Creek  had complete control. Frozen off the very first serve, the Lady Panthers could not find a rhythm and were unable to find success on either side of the ball. The game ended with a final scoreline of 25-13.

Hoping to bounce back with a more inspired performance in game two, the Lady Panthers were left disappointed yet again. With a powerful performance out of Johns Creek, the girls could not dig up the spikes thundered down by the Gladiators front line, losing the game 23-16 and the match 2-0.

Junior Lauren Avidano blocks a spike attempt by the Johns Creeks attack. “[Avidano] really stepped up and hustled to make important plays to keep us in the game,” Ellison said.
Kristen Sherman
Junior Lauren Avidano blocks a spike attempt by the Johns Creeks attack. “[Avidano] really stepped up and hustled to make important plays to keep us in the game,” Ellison said.

Although the Panthers fell in two straight games, flashes of brilliance were evident throughout both competitions. “[Junior Lauren Avidano] hustled hard on defense and gave great effort throughout the match,” Ellison said.

The Panthers did manage to put together a run late in the game to get the score from a meager 16-8 to a respectable 23-16, the ladies still lost the match in a shutout 2-0 in favor of Johns Creek.

“We treated these matches as a marker and we have really improved recently,” Ellison said. “We wanted to play against this type of talented, fast-paced team because we want to not only improve upon our skills in tough matches like these, but also in order to adopt the fast paced style of offense a team such as Johns Creek runs.”

In the match between Starr’s Mill’s first and second competitions, Johns Creek played Columbus in a best of three series. The pre-match favorite was Johns Creek considering the fact that they had only taken one loss all season prior to this matchup. After taking the win in a close game one, Johns Creek could not outlast the power of Columbus and lost the next two games as well as the overall match in a 2-1 Columbus win.

In Starr’s Mill’s second match, they faced an intimidating opponent, the Columbus Blue Devils.

“We need to eliminate mistakes, improve on our defense, and just go out and compete,” Ellison said.

The Panthers did just that in a much-improved performance compared to the match against Johns Creek. Although the girls lost both games and were swept by Columbus, the first match’s scoreline of 25-17 was something to be excited about.

In the second match, the Lady Panthers fell yet again to Columbus but showed even more improvement finishing with a scoreline of 25-20 in favor of the visiting Blue Devils. The Lady Panthers showed significant improvement not only from the first match to the second, but also from game one versus Columbus to game two.

“These games make us more competitive versus the region teams we play throughout the season,” senior Emily Schafhauser said.

This week, the girls varsity volleyball team matched up against Our Lady of Mercy and Troup High School in the Panther Pit on Monday night. Riding the wave of momentum from the performance against Columbus, the girls took down Our Lady of Mercy in a 2-0 sweep as well as the Troup Tigers in a 2-1 win.

The lady’s next match is scheduled for Sep. 1 at 6:30 p.m. against the Luella Lions, a non-conference opponent. The Panthers are slight favorites heading into the matchup as they hope to continue the trend of improving week by week.