Sequoyah Gets Rematch with Pope for State Semifinals
A rematch between two of the best teams in the state will determine a spot in this year’s Class AAAAAA championship.
Sequoyah beat Lee County in straight sets (25-13, 25-18, 25-21) Wednesday night in Leesburg to advance to its second straight state semifinal.
The Lady Chiefs will host Pope at noon Saturday. The winner will move on to face either Kennesaw Mountain or Buford for the state title next Saturday at the LakePoint Sports complex in Emerson.
It will be a rematch of last year’s state semifinal, which Sequoyah won in straight sets.
“I think both teams have a lot of angles to use for motivation,” Sequoyah coach John Edwards said. “Obviously, ours is they beat us this year, and I think they’ve got the final four rematch from last year on their minds.”
Sequoyah (34-2) fell in straight sets to Pope (29-1) in late August. The Lady Chiefs were missing several key players for the early-season matchup and should be at full strength this weekend.
Sequoyah, which extended its winning streak to 29 straight matches Wednesday, was multi-faceted in its attack against Lee County.
Paige Powers led the way with 14 kills and 10 digs, and she was joined along the front line by Sara Siefert (10 kills, 11 digs) and Catherine Brumbeloe (seven kills, two blocks, three aces).
Taylor Pecht led Sequoyah with 34 assists and five aces, while Skylar Martin added 11 digs and three aces.
Pope will be led by the Harvey sisters — senior Lily and freshman Sophie-Katherine — who are first and second on the team in kills.
The Lady Greyhounds are balanced, however. Four players have tallied more than 100 kills, five more than 20 aces, five more than 100 digs and two with more than 275 assists.
“(Pope is) a really good blocking team, and they also play really good back-row defense,” Edwards said. “You have to understand you’re not going to score every time you swing. I think patience is the biggest thing. You have to expect longer points and understand that we have to pass and defend well in order to score.”
Sequoyah will have limited capacity for Saturday’s match at the War Lodge due to social distancing, but Edwards said the atmosphere should remain potent with state semifinal energy.
“It’s not going to be as crowded as it was last year, but the good thing about our gym is that it’s small enough to make a small crowd loud,” Edwards said. “I think our girls are always going to be focused. They’re definitely up for it, but they also know it’s going to take a lot of hard work and us playing our best to advance.”
Pope Volleyball Rolls Back into State Semifinals!
MARIETTA -- Pope defeated North Atlanta in three sets to earn a trip back to the Class AAAAAA semifinals.
The Lady Greyhounds, who won 25-16, 25-20, 25-16, will travel to Sequoyah on Saturday, with a trip to the state championship match on the line.
Pope started the first set strong after building a 15-7 lead and maintained the advantage the rest of the way.
North Atlanta jumped out to a 5-3 lead, putting pressure on the Lady Greyhounds, but Pope rallied back to take the set.
Pope jumped to a 6-0 lead in the third set and cruised to the closeout victory.
Sophie-Katherine Harvey had 12 kills and two digs, while Ayanna Rodgers finished with 11 kills and an ace.
Saturday’s match against Sequoyah will be a rematch of last year’s semifinal, a match the Lady Chiefs won.
Pope Region Champs!
Who is the 6AAAAAA Region Championship winner? You guessed it... The Pope Greyhounds! Well done, Pope! Now onto State! Matches start Wednesday at Pope!
Lily Harvey is Prep Volleyball's Recruit of the Week!
You can attend a top 25 Division I program but might not ever make a big impact there, or you can be a big fish at a smaller school. Which do you pick, and why?
Wherever I end up going, I want to make a difference. I believe that I could do that at either of these options, as long as the other aspects of both schools match up. I would have to base my decision on other details, such as academics, location, campus life, etc. Whichever program could help me more in the future would be the one I would pick.
You’ve done well in high school and on the ACT/SAT, and you consider yourself brainy, but the best volleyball options you have would mean going to a school that had just an average reputation academically. How do you decide?
Don’t get me wrong, I love volleyball, and the team and coaches are a huge part in my decision. But for me personally, academics come first, and if a program isn’t a good academic fit for me, that is certainly a huge push factor. If I am not able to push myself academically, I don’t think I would be able to attend the school, even if they have the perfect volleyball team. I’d rather attend a school with better academics, even if that means the team isn’t quite as good.
The new recruiting rules prohibit you from making a Division I commitment until your junior year, do you personally think that is a good thing or a bad thing? Please explain.
I personally agree with this decision. I started recruiting as a freshman, and the schools I was looking at then are nothing like the ones I am currently considering. So much has changed since then that I know I would have regretted my decision if I had committed early. I think providing athletes more time to get to know themselves, what they are looking for, and what is reasonable for them is extremely important.
Let’s say you’ve decided on an academic major. School “A” has your major, but the volleyball program isn’t what you’re looking for. School “B” seems to be a perfect fit in every way but doesn’t have the major. Which do you choose and why?
As I mentioned before, academics come first for me. The major I am currently interested in, Biology/Pre-med, is fairly broad and is a major at most universities. If school B doesn’t have my major, I would probably pick school A. Even if I don’t end up choosing Biology in college, I am definitely planning on majoring in science, and a school that doesn’t have Biology as a major may not have as many science major options.
Team dynamics seem to be important to a lot of people. What’s your ideal team relationship situation – in the locker room, on the court, in the dorms, and on the weekend – and where do you fit in?
I want a team that is basically a sisterhood. I love getting to know my teammates and learning to trust them, and when that happens, I believe the team plays so much better. I play best when I am surrounded by people who support me and want me to succeed, so a close team relationship is super important.
What kind of coach gets the best out of you?
Speaking from experience, the best coaches I have ever had had a strong relationship with the players on and off the court. I play best when I am comfortable around my coaches and teammates, and when I know, they trust me as much as I trust them. I am super analytical, so feedback (positive and negative) is really important to me as well.
What is something unique that most people don’t know about you?
At one point in my life, I played six different sports at once! I ran cross country, did gymnastics, cheer, volleyball, swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, and dance. In middle school, I narrowed it down to swimming, volleyball, and cross country, and now I just do volleyball. I would still do cross country if it wasn’t a fall sport, but volleyball is more important, and the two overlap.
What about going to college scares the bejeebers out of you?
I’m a little nervous about leaving my family and my dog, but other than that, I’m excited to go to college! I think it will be a really great experience, and I’m looking forward to meeting new people and trying new things. I’ll be too busy with school and volleyball to miss home too much, but I’ll be happy to see everyone when I do get to visit.
Kill, Dig, Ace, or Block, which do you choose, and why?
Kill! There is nothing like getting a perfect hit in a game, especially if it’s a close match or if the other team has a huge block. Middles don’t get set as much as other hitters, so getting to take advantage of a perfect set is my favorite part of the game. It really helps get the team’s confidence up, too!
What was your first big success as an athlete, and how did it impact you?
2018 as a whole was a big year for my volleyball career. I played on an underdog team that worked super hard and ended up getting 3rd at AAUS. I had just come off an injury, and I had been so frustrated that I hadn’t been on the court for so long. During AAU’s, everything kind of clicked for everyone on the team. I had never seen hard work pay off as it did for us, and it really inspired me to keep pushing myself and never give up. Then in the fall, my high school team won states. We only had two people over 6-0, but we focused on our strengths and never let the ball drop. We came back from a 2-0 lead by the other team in the Elite Eight and pushed our way through to the finals, where we won 3-1. This reinforced what I had seen in club, and showed what dedication and endurance could do for a team.
Lily Harvey is looking for a school where she can be the difference-maker. She also understands that academics are her first priority. We wish her luck in her college search.
Ava Vlkovic Inks with the Panthers!
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.
2 Pope Players named to JVA Watch List!
Congratulations to Ava Vlkovic and Ayanna Rodgers who were named to JVA's 2020 Ultra Ankle Watch List this year!
All-Region Teams Are Annouced and Pope is Well-Represented!
Take all of the teams in the region: Allatoona, Kennesaw Mountain, Kell, Osborn, Lassiter, Pope, South Cobb, Sprayberry, and Wheeler. Then ask the coaches to vote on players from other teams. The result? 2 dream teams made up of amazing players, with MANY Pope players among them!
1st Team All-Region:
2nd Team All-Region:
And a very special congratulations to Ayanna Rodgers for ALSO being named Region Player of the Year!
Pope Scholar Athletes
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!
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!
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.
All-Region Teams Announced!
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:
and to our 2nd Team All-Region:
Pope Middle School Grey Team wins September Tourney!
Pope (C) Grey Team wins their first Tournament! Well done, Hounds!
Pope Middle School Sky Team beats Walton in scrimmage!
Pope (E) Sky Team beats Walton in their scrimmage. Way to go, Greyhounds!
Pope fields 2 players on the AVCA Watch List!
Congratulations to Ella Burris and Ayanna Rodgers for making the AVCA's Phenom Watch List 2020! We couldn't be more proud of you!
Pope Middle School Blue Team wins Tsunami!
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!
Pope (B) White Team ALSO wins the Tsunami Middle School Challenge, beating Blessed Trinity in the final! Greyhound Bound!
Congratulations to MADISON MIMS for committing to play volleyball at Central College University!
Congratulations to AVA VLKOVIC for committing to play volleyball at Georgia State University!
Congratulations to STELLA DEES for committing to play sand volleyball at Georgia State University!
ADAIR HUTCHISON was selected for the 17-National All-Tournament Team at the USAV Jr. Nationals Championships 2019!
AVA VLKOVIC selected as a 17-Open Star at the USAV Jr National Championship 2019!
STELLA DEES named Soph 79, one of the top sophomores in the country, by
Varsity and Jr Varsity 2019!
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!
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!
Dees' late push helps Pope cement state championship
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.
POPE GREYHOUNDS STATE CHAMPIONS!!
Pope Defeats Harrison, Apalachee, Glynn Academy, Creekview, and Allatoona for the State Championship