Lady Greyhounds

2018 6AAAAAA

!State Champions!


Greyhound News


Varsity and JV Tryouts are Here!

June 28, 2020

Please join us for Varsity and Junior Varsity Tryouts!

When:  July 9-10th, 1:00-3:00pm

      and July 13-14th, 1:00-3:00pm

Where:  Pope High School (New) Gym

Who: Rising 9th-12th graders interested in playing Volleyball!

Required: Uploaded Athletic Physical into ParentVue before tryouts!

Pope Volleyball Youth Summer Camp. REGISTER TO HOLD YOUR SPOT!

July 08, 2020

As you may have heard, GSHA and Cobb County is not allowing us to host camps on our school campus.  So we are holding our camp at The Southern Volleyball Center, Home of A5 Volleyball!  Payment link will be sent as soon as available. Start spreading the word, bring a friend, and enjoy Summer Volleyball Camp with Pope!  REGISTER NOW TO HOLD YOUR SPOT!

When:  July 29-31

Where:  A5 Volleyball Club, 11451 Old Roswell Road, Alpharetta, GA  30009

Cost:  $155/player

What:  Kneepads, water bottles, good energy, and a lot of fun!

Who: Rising 3rd-8th Graders

Who Else: Our New Head Varsity Coach, Jeff White!  Plus LA O'Sullivan and  Nationally Ranked A5 Volleyball Club's Youth Director, Walter Patterson!

Link for Payment to follow.  In the meantime, please fill out Registration Form and we will send you the payment information when available!  Registration is not complete until payment has been received and form is filled out below!

Ava Vlkovic Inks with the Panthers!

June 06, 2020

ATLANTA – Another talented prospect, Ava Vlkovic, signed her national letter of intent to play volleyball at Georgia State, head coach Sally Polhamus announced Wednesday afternoon. Vlkovic will join six other newcomers in the fall. 

Ava Vlkovic- DS, 5'7, Marietta, Ga. (Pope High School) 

A local native, Vlkovic is a four-year letterwinner at Pope High School under head coach Shawn Darling. She helped her team win a State Championship in 2018. A defensive player, she was ranked No. 15 among Georgia high school dig leaders at the end of the 2019 season. Her back row efforts also earned her All-State and the Marietta Daily Journal's All-County Second Team honors in her senior season. Vlkovic played for A5. In 2019 she had the opportunity to play for their international team in Africa and travel with the National Botswana team.

"We can't wait to welcome Vlkovic to our 2020 recruiting class and to the Panther family. This class is filled with competitive and driven athletes both on and off the court with a strong foundation of incredible character," said Polhamus. 

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Pope Welcomes New Varsity Head Coach, Dr. Jeff White!

April 17, 2020

Pope Volleyball is so happy to welcome Dr. Jeff White to the position of Varsity Head Coach.  Coach White brings many years of experience to our program:

34 Years of Coaching Experience
18 Years of Volleyball Coaching Experience
12 Years of High School Head Volleyball Coaching Experience in Georgia
6 Years of College Coaching Experience (Brenau, Birmingham-Southern, UAB)
6 Years of Club Coaching Experience including 3 Years as a Club Director (A5, GA5, TCA)

When considering elevating an already Elite Level Program, Coach White says, "Pope Volleyball already has multiple middle school teams in place, the JV team is quite successful and the Varsity Team has won multiple GHSA State Championships. My plan is to expand on the existing system and insert my vision and training methods throughout all volleyball teams within Pope Volleyball. From 6th grade through the Varsity, our teams will support each other on and off the court through mentoring programs and support at matches. The goal is for every player in the program to feel connected and part of something bigger than themselves."

Coach White has his PhD in Sport Pedagogy. As a faculty member, he will be based in the math department, and as a coach, he will oversee the entire Pope Volleyball Program including Varsity, JV, Feeder Teams, Camps and Clinics.  We are happy to have him with us.  Welcome, Coach White!

2 Pope Players named to JVA Watch List!

March 09, 2020

Congratulations to Ava Vlkovic and Ayanna Rodgers who were named to JVA's 2020 Ultra Ankle Watch List this year!

Pope Scholar Athletes

November 16, 2019

The Lady Greyhounds had 5 Scholar Athletes, each maintaining a 3.5+ average for a minimum of their freshman and sophomore years.  Well done, Renee Bissell, Sophie Gould, Lily Harvey, Caroline Wiseman, and Sadie Woodworth!

Pope players nominated to play in Senior All-State Match!

November 09, 2019

Georgia Volleyball Coaches Association  hosted an all-star game for seniors to have one last showcase for their high school volleyball carriers, as selected by vote of their members.  4 Pope Seniors were named:  Ava Vlkovic, Zeren Yesilova, Madison Mims, and Caroline Wiseman.

GVCA selects Pope players for All-State Team!

November 09, 2019

2019 All State Selections

The 2019 All State Team for each classification was selected by a vote of member coaches of the GVCA, and reviewed by the board and past presidents.  Nominations are taken from head coaches only via MaxPreps through the Sunday following the area tournament.  All nominees whose coaches are GVCA members are then voted on by the coaches and reviewed by the committee made up of present board members and past presidents of the GVCA.  Pope placed 3 girls on this team:  Ava Vlkovic, Lily Harvey, Zeren Yesilova; and one alternate: Ayanna Rodgers.

Pope fights in Final 4, but is done just shy of Finals

October 29, 2019

Sequoyah sweeps Pope to advance to finals

CANTON -- Sequoyah had a plan to contain Pope’s middle hitters, and it worked effectively.

In what could have been their most complete match of the season to date, the Lady Chiefs had the Class AAAAAA defending state champion rattled from the start and never let up until they won 25-13, 25-16, 25-16 in the state semifinals Tuesday at the War Lodge.

“I don’t think we could have played any better,” Sequoyah coach John Edwards said. “That’s probably the best match we ever played from the beginning point to the end point against a quality, quality Pope team. (Tuesday) was just another level of how good we can be defensively and understanding where (Pope) is going to hit.”

The Lady Chiefs, who are seeking their second state, will have a rematch against Region 6AAAAAA rival Allatoona on Saturday for the championship at Marietta High School.

Sequoyah (41-1), which won the title in 2014, has beaten Allatoona all three times they have faced off this season. The latest being a four-setter for the region tournament title. Sequoyah setter Taylor Pecht was fluent in getting Paige Powers and Allie Powers involved, finishing the match with 32 assists. Paige Powers led with 16 kills and Allie Powers added 13.

Pope (37-13) made it to final four without their most experienced hitter Stella Dees, who missed the season with a shoulder injury. Without Dees, the Lady Greyhounds focused on being defensive-minded and getting their middle hitters more involved offensively. Zeren Yesilova, a defensive specialist, was asked to play more of an offensive role at outside hitter. Against Sequoyah, it was Yesilova who led the Lady Greyhounds with five kills. Middle hitters Lily Harvey and Ayanna Rodgers were held to four after doubling that number in Pope’s straight-set win over River Ridge in the quarterfinals.

“They knew that were a middle-driven team,” Pope coach Shawn Darling said. “They pushed us on serve-received and our middles were taken out of our offense. We had a hard time shouldering that. They did a great job making sure they did that to us.” The Lady Chiefs jumped out to an early 5-2 lead in the first set. Pope rallied to make it 6-all. Afterward, it was all Sequoyah.

Both second and third sets started with an early Sequoyah service run. The Lady Chiefs served their way to an 8-3 lead in the second set and maintained a safe lead. It looked like Pope found its groove late in the second set when it managed to trim its deficit from eight points to five, but the momentum did not last.

The first portion of the third set was evenly matched between the team. With the Lady Chiefs holding on to a 14-12 lead, a service run by Pecht to give Sequoyah a six-point lead crumbled all hopes of Pope making a comeback.

“We worked on how we could get (Pope) out of system so they couldn’t set their middles,” Edwards said. “We had a specific game plan for each hitter, and I was really proud of our players for executing their game plan.”

Pope sweeps River Ridge completing the Elite 8 with a Victory!

October 26, 2019

Pope's offense Overpowers River Ridge in Quarterfinal

  • Adam Carrington

MARIETTA -- At the beginning of the season, Pope was not sure who was going to contribute offensively.

Now, the Lady Greyhounds have almost everybody contributing offensively. Seven players recorded multiple kills Saturday as Pope eased to a 25-15, 25-18, 25-15 victory over River Ridge in the Class AAAAAA state quarterfinals. Defending state champion Pope, in the final four for the third straight season, will play at Sequoyah on Tuesday for a chance to return to the state championship match.

Pope’s middle blockers lead the way offensively, with Ayanna Rodgers and Lily Harvey totaling nine kills apiece. Caroline Wiseman added seven. Zaren Yesilova, who switched from defensive specialist to outside hitter, also had seven kills, while Madison Mims added six kills to go with her 17 assists.


“At the beginning of the season, we were still trying to figure out what we were going to look like,” Pope coach Shawn Darling said. “Who was going to be our offensive weapons? What was going to be our offensive style? For us, we are a team where everybody contributes offensively. That’s something that has really made a difference.”

Pope beat a scrappy River Ridge team that made it into the playoffs as Region 6AAAAAA’s No. 4 seed before winning a pair of five-set matches over Apalachee and Richmond Hill on the road.


For the first half of the first two sets, Pope (37-12) and River Ridge (30-17) were evenly matched. Both made plays, both traded leads. But once the sets reached 15-all, Pope gained the upper hand.

The first set was decided on a 10-point service run by Adair Hutchinson, who served four aces during the stretch. River Ridge made just one error during those final 10 points, with the other nine ending with aces and kills.

River Ridge seemed to bounce back from the late first-set lapse by jumping out to a 5-2 lead in the second on Emily Cheek’s serve. The Lady Knights stayed in control of the second set until the Lady Greyhounds rallied to tie it at 15-all. But once the score reached 17-all, Yesilova served out the remaining eight points to give the Lady Greyhounds a two-set advantage. Four of Wiseman’s seven kills came during this run.

An early five-point service run by Ava Vlokovic opened up a 12-5 Pope lead in the third. An additional four-point run on Yesilova’s serve upped the lead to 18-8, making it tough for the Lady Knights to make a comeback.

Madison Logan and Abby Infante led River Ridge with four kills each, while Reagan Keener finished with three. Gabbi Phillips contributed with 11 assists.

“We’re proud of the girls and proud of the season that we had,” River Ridge coach Julie Winfield said. “A No. 4-seed team making it to the elite eight is something to be said. I don’t think a lot of people thought we’d make it here, and our girls stepped up to every challenge that we faced.”


On the Road to State 2019!

October 21, 2019

Defending Class AAAAAA state champion Pope and runner-up Allatoona also advanced in their bracket. With both teams the No. 2 seed out of their respective regions, Pope will travel to Lee County on Wednesday with Allatoona heading to Drew.

All-Region Teams Announced!

October 07, 2019

The Pope Lady Greyhounds hosted the All-Region 6AAAAAA  Area 7 Tournament this week, and the All-Region Dream Teams were announced.  The Hounds dominated, with 6 girls chosen for both teams, 5 on 1st Team!  Way to Pound 'Em, Hounds!  Such a nice recognition for such a talented group of athletes.

Congratulations to our 1st Team All-Region:

Caroline Wiseman

Lily Harvey

Zeren Yesilova

Ava Vlkovic

Ayanna Rodgers

and to our 2nd Team All-Region:

Ella Burris

Varsity Takes Chattanooga!

September 14, 2019

Pope Varsity traveled to Chattanooga for a 2 day tournament, going to Gold on Sunday!  Pound 'em, Hounds!

Pope Middle School Blue Team wins Tsunami!

September 07, 2019

Pope (A) Blue Team wins the Tsunami Middle School Challenge, beating Blessed Trinity in the final, AGAIN!  The Future is Bright!

Pope Middle School White Team wins Tsunami, too!

September 07, 2019

Pope (B) White Team ALSO wins the Tsunami Middle School Challenge, beating Blessed Trinity in the final!  Greyhound Bound!

Pope Middle School Grey Team wins September Tourney!

September 14, 2019

Pope (C) Grey Team wins their first Tournament!  Well done, Hounds!

Pope Middle School Sky Team beats Walton in scrimmage!

September 12, 2019

Pope (E) Sky Team beats Walton in their scrimmage.  Way to go, Greyhounds!

Pre Season Predictions

August 09, 2019

Pope volleyball uses defense to defend

  •         Adam Carrington acarrington@mdjonline.com Aug 9, 2019

Led by its senior crop of, from left, Sophie Gould, Renee Bissel, Zeren Yesilova, Madison Mims, Caroline Wiseman and Ava Vlkovic, Pope will rely on defensive play as it bids to defend its Class AAAAAA state championship.

Adam Carrington



Even without leading hitter Stella Dees, will miss the season after undergoing shoulder surgery, Pope’s goal of winning another Class AAAAAA state title is well intact.

If the Lady Greyhounds could overcome adversity to win state last season, chances are they can do it again.

Things did not look promising for Pope in 2018 following a weak showing at the Cobb County Championships in early October. Dees was injured during the tournament and missed the Area 7AAAAAA tournament the following week, where Pope finished second.


For the state playoffs, the Lady Greyhounds needed to undergo a lineup overhaul. They started running a 6-2 format, which better suited the team.


With Dees returning to the lineup in time for the playoffs, new-look Pope beat two-time defending state champion Harrison in the opening round, then came back from two sets down to beat Apalachee. From there, it was on to south Georgia to beat Glynn Academy in straight sets in the quarterfinals, beating Creekview on the road in the semifinals and coming back from a set down to beat Allatoona for the championship.

Other factors contributed to Pope’s first state championship in seven years, with all the matches being on the road.

“One of the things that led to our success was that we traveled over 1,000 miles across the state of Georgia in that period of time, and we played in some crazy gyms,” Pope coach Shawn Darling said. “I think that really helped strengthen us mentally to prepare for a setting like a state championship.”

While the Lady Greyhounds are going to miss Dees, who totaled 414 kills last season, they will utilize other strengths, such as their defensive play. Pope is loaded with liberos and middle blockers, and senior libero Ava Vrkovic is confident about Pope’s defensive abilities.


“We feel our defense is very good,” said Vrkovic, a Georgia State commit. “We’re excited. The ball will never drop.”

Vrkovic and senior Zeren Yesilova, who averaged 11 digs a match, both bring experience at libero. Sophomore Ayanna Rogers is returning in the middle, where she plans to block alongside senior Caroline Wiseman. Fellow senior Madison Mims plans to come in and set, while also handling blocking from the right side.

“Our defense with our (defensive specialists) and liberos, hopefully we will frustrate some teams defensively,” Darling said. “We kind of know who we are. We kind of figured out what is going to work for us. They love each other and want to play for each other.”


Pope will also have to account for graduating setter Eliza Dees, who is now playing beach volleyball at Austin Peay. Sophomore Ella Burriss, who was heavily involved in the playoffs a year ago, is the leading candidate to run the offense.

Ring Season!

December 31, 2018

The Pope Varsity Volleyball team finished their season with a 40-9 record and finished as the GHSA 6A State Champions for the 2018-2019 season.  The Hounds fought hard throughout the tournament beating out the defending State Champions, Harrison, in the first round.  The Hounds battled back from being down 2 sets to none in the 2nd round to a tough Apalachee team, but came out on top in the 5th set 15-9.  Pope then traveled down to Brunswick to sweep Glynn Academy in the Elite 8.  In the Final Four, the Hounds defeated Creekview 3-1 and were ready for the State Championship against Allatoona.  Pope won the first set 25-17, lost the second 15-25 and then came back to win the next two, 25-18 and 25-21.  The Hounds were awarded their State Championship rings at the last regular season basketball games at Pope High School on January 26th!

November 15, 2018

Cobb County Board of Education Honors Lady Greyhounds!

Cobb County BOE recognizes the Pope Volleyball Team for their accomplishments for the 2018 season and their title of State Champions!

November 03, 2018


Pope Defeats Harrison, Apalachee, Glynn Academy, Creekview, and  Allatoona for the State Championship

November 04, 2018

Dees' late push helps Pope cement state championship

  • Michael Foster

  • Nov 3, 2018

MARIETTA -- Pope never had a doubt.

Stella Dees recorded 11 of her 15 kills in the final two sets and the Lady Greyhounds tactically frustrated Allatoona in a four-set win (25-17, 15-25, 25-18, 25-21) Saturday in the Class AAAAAA state championship match.  Pope (40-9), which claimed its first state championship since a three-year title reign from 2009-11, was also led by nine kills from Eliza Dees, while Lily Harvey had eight from the middle-blocking position.  Allatoona’s Emma Ahrens dominated with 22 kills, and it was Pope’s lack of height, in contrast to Allatoona’s towering combination of Ahrens and Chamblee Russell, that stood out in the early going.

But where the Lady Greyhounds lacked in size, they excelled in fundamentals. “We know we aren’t as big as everyone else,” Pope coach Shawn Darling said. “Our team motto has been all about heart. The thing is, we build on playing sharp defense and then our opportunities come from that. They buy in, they’re smart and they do everything we tell them to. It’s easy to coach girls like (Stella Dees) who are so smart and are always in the right spots, and then they turn that into points.”

Pope won the first set after trailing 13-8, then looked to have met its match when Allatoona (38-15) turned around and dominated the second. Then, the Lady Greyhounds responded by going up 6-1 to start the next set after the break, cruising to the set win and putting the pressure on Allatoona to win the next one.  The Lady Buccaneers went up 7-3, then rallied from three down to make it 21-all, but Pope turned it around and set up the match point when libero Ava Vikovic got an ace thanks to a friendly roll from the net.

It was the first state title for Darling, who took over for longtime coach Bryan Jones heading into the 2017 season.  Last year, Pope reached the state semifinals before losing to eventual champion Harrison.  “For me, I won state as a player, but I think winning as a coach was more fun,” Darling said. “The fact that you are there watching a group of young ladies put in all of that hard work, and then seeing it pay off, is so rewarding.”

Allatoona was in pursuit of a title in its first state finals appearance, and with Russell returning next year, should be primed for another run.

MDJ Athlete of the Week!

November 10, 2018

Athlete of the Week: Eliza Dees, Pope

  • Nov 10, 2018

Pope senior setter Eliza Dees practically did it all in the Lady Greyhounds’ 25-17, 15-25, 25-18, 25-21 win over Allatoona to win the Class AAAAAA state title last Saturday.

Not only did Dees have 23 assists against the Lady Buccaneers, but she also added 20 digs, nine kills and two blocks.

In Pope’s four-set win over Creekview in the semifinals, Dees tacked on 22 assists, 16 kills and 13 digs.

Her strengths: Being a team leader and keeping the team positive

What she’s working on: Her strength and speed

What got her into volleyball: She started at age 9, following in her older sister Morgan’s footsteps.

What she likes most about her coach: “She’s awesome, keeps us positive, helps us keep our grades up.”

Her finest volleyball moment: Beating Allatoona to win the Class AAAAAA state championship

What she likes to do on her day off from volleyball: Going hiking, the lake or hanging out with her younger sister, Stella

Advice she would give her 12-year-old self: “Make sure you keep working hard.”

Her inspiration: Her older sister, Morgan.

Worst household chore: Doing the dishes

Superpower she would like to have: Flight

Movie so cheesy, it’s good: Little Rascals

Something not many people know about her: Her face gets red during a match, but is has nothing to do with her health or an allergic reaction.

Pope wins 1st round of State

October 20, 2018

Volleyball Roundup: Pope ousts two-time reigning state champ Harrison from playoffs

  • MDJ staff


    • Oct 20, 2018

Pope beat two-time defending state champion Harrison 25-23, 25-21, 25-15 in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament. Eliza Dees led with way with 17 assists and 13 kills. Stella Dees added 10 kills and Zeren Yesilova finished with 19 digs.

The first set was back-and-forth, with the Lady Greyhounds needing to rally to claim the second. Pope (36-9) will play at Apalachee on Wednesday.

MDJ Athlete of the Week!

September 15, 2018

Athlete of the Week: Lily Harvey, Pope

  • Sep 15, 2018

Sophomore middle hitter Lily Harvey has been one of Pope’s most consistent hitters.

In the Lady Greyhounds’ area sweep of Centennial and Northview, Harvey had a combined seven kills, a .429 attack percentage and two blocks. In a straight-set win over Sequoyah last Thursday, she added 10 kills and three blocks.

Her strengths: Sophomore

What she’s working on: Timing her blocks

How she got her start: Her parents met playing volleyball and encouraged her to try out

Her best volleyball moment: Placing third at the AAU nationals over the summer

What she likes most about her coach: She doesn’t have to put you down to make you better.

Her biggest struggle: Getting injured in March and not recovering fully until July

On her day off from volleyball, she...: Goes to the pool with her sisters

Her biggest inspiration: Her grandfather

Worst household chore: Doing the dishes

Superpower she would like to have: Reading minds

Favorite movie: Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom

Something not many people know about her: She can vibrate her eyes.

5 Greyhounds make All-Region Teams!

October 18, 2018

5 Greyhounds honored with All-Region Team Assignments!

1st Team All-Region:

Eliza Dees

Stella Dees

Caroline Wiseman

2nd Team All-Region:

Lily Harvey

Alyssa Linde

Varsity and Jr Varsity 2019!

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