Wolves out to defend county volleyball title

It's tough to question Wesleyan's volleyball credentials.

The Class A private school has been the county's pre-eminent power in the sport with state championships the past four seasons, essentially earning bragging rights within the county. The Wolves also officially earned top billing last fall by winning the county's inaugural volleyball tournament.

Their pursuit of another title begins today, when pool play begins for the county championships at Peachtree Ridge, Berkmar, Dacula, Providence and Parkview.

"It's something where we feel confident, but anytime you're the defending champion, you have to defend what you won," Wesleyan coach Ted Russell said. "We're just going in trying to do our best to defend our title."

Wesleyan isn't the same team as last year - it can't be with losing star Betsy Smith to the Florida Gators.

But the Wolves are still 29-7, with the only losses coming to highly ranked teams from Georgia and Alabama. Anne Marie Armstrong continues to be the star and only needs a few kills to break Smith's single-season record. Maggie Smith and Grace Leah Baughn also have been playing well for a program that rarely faces Gwinnett teams other than GAC during the regular season.

Parkview, Dacula and Norcross also are expected to be top contenders at the county championships. Both Parkview and Norcross made the semifinals last year, but the final match featured Wesleyan vs. GAC.

This year's final day will be different as all of the matches will be played Saturday at the Suwanee Sports Academy. The final day was split between three sites in 2007.

"Volleyball in Gwinnett County is growing and seeing all 20 schools in the same location and seeing four courts (at a time) is really good for us," Russell said.

SideBar: Volleyball

What: Gwinnett County Championships

When: Today, Saturday

Where: Five high schools today; Suwanee Sports Academy on Saturday

Defending champion: Wesleyan

Today's schedule

(Matches at 4:30, 5:45 and 7 p.m. at each site)

Pool A

At Peachtree Ridge

· Peachtree Ridge, Grayson, Wesleyan, Collins Hill

Pool B

At Berkmar

· Berkmar, Shiloh, Mill Creek, GAC

Pool C

At Dacula

· Dacula, Brookwood, Buford, Duluth

Pool D

At Providence

· Providence, Central Gwinnett, South Gwinnett, Norcross

Pool E

At Parkview

· Hebron, Parkview, Meadowcreek, North Gwinnett

Saturday's schedule

(Matches at 9, 10 and 11 a.m., noon and finals at 1 p.m.)

· At Suwanee Sports Academy