MARIETTA - Two record-setting volleyball seasons came to an end on Thursday as both Collins Hill and Parkview fell in the Class AAAAA Final Four at Marietta High School.
The Eagles and the Panthers each advanced to the semifinals for the first time in school history, and they were both defeated just one win away from the state championship match.
Collins Hill lost a heartbreaking five-game match to No. 2 Milton, while Parkview fell in four games to No. 1 Northview.
"I'm very proud of them," Collins Hill head coach Stan Carpenter said. "They stepped up well and played great. Of course, I feel bad for losing, but I can't feel bad about the way they played."
The Eagles won the first game 25-20, rallying for the final eight points of the game behind the serving of junior Kelsey Foster.
Milton, which features a huge front line, came back to win the next two games, 25-17 and 25-19. The second-ranked team then got up 21-20 in the fourth game before Collins Hill stormed back and won 25-23 on a kill by senior Jessica Davies.
"That was a great comeback in the fourth game," Carpenter said.
Milton (46-12) then answered with a 15-11 win in the fifth game to close out the match and advance to the state championship.
Katie Winschel had 15 kills for Collins Hill and Davies added 13. Samantha Lum and Alex Raffalovich had 12 digs and 10 digs respectively, and Foster and Rayven Tirado combined for 35 assists for the Eagles, which finished the season 37-10.
"Milton's good," Carpenter said, "they've been here before. We got the short end this time, but for our first final four I thought we played really well."
So did Parkview.
Despite having to go up against the No. 1 Titans and their 6-5 sophomore Courtney Fletcher, the Panthers gave the top-ranked team in the state all it wanted for four tough games.
Northview (50-6) won the first game 25-18, but Parkview came back with a tremendous performance in Game 2.
With the score tied 12-12, the Panthers rattled off 12 of the next 17 points to take a 24-19 lead. Parkview junior Maggie Bean then delivered the winning serve for a 25-21 Parkview victory.
"We took one game from them and that's more than what a lot of people thought we'd do," Parkview head coach Melodie Cleckler said.
The Panthers might've taken more if it wasn't for Fletcher.
The sophomore smoked seven kills in the final 11 points of Game 3 to give the Titans a 25-21 win and then racked up four more kills and three blocks in Game 4 to lead Northview to a 25-17 win and a berth in the state title match against Milton on Saturday.
"She's a handful," Cleckler said. "There were a few times where we blocked her, but what can you say? She's great."
And the Parkview head coach said she couldn't be prouder of her team, which finished the season with a 37-16 record.
"I don't have enough words to describe how truly proud I am of this team," Cleckler said. "I know they surprised a ton of people.
"They're not the most talented team I've ever had, but they have the best cohesiveness."