The Fellowship varsity volleyball team defeated King’s Ridge Christian School and Pinecrest Academy in the AREA Volleyball Tournament on Tuesday, Oct. 8 to advance to the AREA championship game and earn the school’s first-ever trip to the state volleyball tournament.
The Lady Paladins (25-6 overall) visited top-seeded Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta on Thursday.
FCS is guaranteed to host a first round state tournament match at Paladin Gym on Thursday Oct. 17 based on seeding in the AREA Tournament. The top four teams from each AREA tournament earn a trip to the state tournament, which begins Oct. 17.
On Tuesday night, the Lady Paladins downed King’s Ridge 25-11 in the first set and 25-21 in the second set.
”It was a great night for the Lady Paladins,” head coach Leah Smith said. “With a rough start against King’s Ridge, we battled back and still pulled out the victory. We came out very strong against Pinecrest and won in three sets.”
FCS beat Pinecrest 25-11 in the first set, but dropped the second 22-25. The Lady Paladins posted a 25-19 third-set victory.
“This is our first time to states, so it is a great accomplishment,” Smith said. “It was a big night for the Lady Paladins. Basically we are playing Holy Innocents to determine who will be a first or second seed in the state tournament.”
Fellowship entered the AREA Tournament seeded second among the eight teams to qualify for the tourney. It’s the first time the school has earned the right to host the tournament since joining the GHSA.
Fellowship (7-1 in AREA matches this season) was the ninth-ranked team among all Single A schools in the latest poll.
“They have done an awesome job this season,” Smith said. “We have played very well as a team. They are a bunch of scrappy and attacking players who are mentally sharp. We have been ranked seventh through 10th in the state all year.”
To win on Thursday, FCS will have to block well and get the key points, Smith said.
“We have to play with confidence,” said Smith, who noted last year’s team was eliminated by Providence in the first round of the AREA tournament. “We have a better record than last year’s team [19-11], but I also think we are more mentally tough and confident this year. Our goal was to reach the state tournament, which we have.”
The head coach noted that Shelby Villar is “hands down our MVP” this season. “She hits the ball with power, and can dig anything out,” Smith said. “AJ Baumann has also been a key contributor. They have been our leaders, but it’s really been a team effort. Our setters this year have shown a lot of hustle and determination, and have been the backbone for our hitters.”