COVINGTON, Ga. - Lanier Christian Academy may be the Lightning, but the Peachtree Academy Lady Panthers brought the thunder in its 3-0 region championship victory.
The Lady Panthers came into the championship match playing with a lot of emotion and purpose. They were business as usual, but they seemed to be playing more loose than the Lady Lightning.
As the match progressed, the loose play of the Lady Panthers seemed to be the difference, according to head coach Bobby Mitchell.
“We don’t try to get caught up in the hype,” Mitchell said. “It’s a mental game about how relaxed we can be. And we did that.”
While having fun, the Lady Panthers also dominated in the region championship game.
Peachtree Academy won the three sets 25-11, 25-15 and 25-23, respectively.
In all three sets, the Lady Panthers jumped out to a significant lead and they never trailed the Lady Lightning until LCA led 16-14 in the third set.
On the cusp of another region championship, Peachtree Academy found itself trailing 23-21. But the heart of a champion shined through even with its back up against the wall.
The Lady Panthers won four straight points to claim the 3-0 victory.
As soon as the 25th point was scored, the gymnasium erupted all the way from the stands to the court. Athletic Director Ken Van Ness presented the Lady Panthers with the first place trophy as the celebration continued.
Though there were some tense moments down the stretch, Thursday’s match did not have the same atmosphere as the last time these two teams met.
Mitchell pointed to his team’s health as a contributing factor to a more comfortable win.”
Peachtree Academy’s energy appeared to intimidate LCA early in the match which caused some critical mistakes by LCA - mistakes that helped Peachtree Academy easily win the first two sets.
LCA just didn’t have a chance to fully recover.
Leading the Lady Panthers were Megan and Annie Gibson, Haley Hopkins Briana Mitchell and Marissa McCullough.
Megan Gibson had 10 kills on 31 attempts as well as three digs. Hopkins recorded 10 kills, too, with three digs. Hopkins had 15 digs along with three aces. Annie Gibson finished the match with seven assists with McCullough leading the team with 30 assists and nine digs.
In total, Peachtree Academy had 20 aces with only five errors. It also served at 93%.
Peachtree Academy’s win over LCA was preceded by a Lady Panthers 3-0 win over Killian Hill, too. The Lady Panthers won those three sets 25-12, 25-9 and 25-9, respectively.
Moving forward, the Lady Panthers will host the first round of the state playoffs on Tuesday, Oct. 12.
Mitchell wants to use his team’s region tournament success as a stepping stone to have better success in the state playoffs.
“I learned that what we’re doing is working,” Mitchell said. “We don’t talk about winning championships. We talk about being present and thinking happy thoughts. Then, focus on passing, setting and hitting.”