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Title defense
Panthers claim third-straight area crown

SNELLVILLE - After starting its day with a win over Shiloh on Saturday morning in the Area 8-AAAAA volleyball tournament at Brookwood, Parkview had to sit around for a couple of hours to see who it would play in the finals.

As fate would have it, Shiloh fought its way through the loser's bracket for a rematch against the Panthers, only to come up short again as Parkview topped the Generals in three games to win its third straight area title.

"We've had a rough go in region play all year and we were looking to get consistent in this tournament," Parkview head coach Catherine Zidow said. "We wanted to focus on being one of the fastest offensive teams in the tournament."

Both squads entered Saturday in the winner's bracket, but Parkview punched an early ticket to the finals with a 25-21, 25-16 sweep of the Generals.

That made Shiloh's road to the finals a bit longer, but a 25-17, 25-20 sweep of Grayson put the Generals (16-16) back in contention for the title.

Shiloh came out strong in Game 1 of the finals by taking a 13-10 lead on the net play from hitters Devotion Watson and Courtney Adams but the Panthers rallied to take the first game 25-21.

Behind the serving of Katie Carroll, the Panthers went on a 5-0 run and took the lead for good, eventually closing out the first game on a clean ace served by Sammi Bosler.

The Panthers had thoughts of another sweep of the Generals by building a quick 6-1 lead in Game 2, but Shiloh collected itself and took a 12-10 lead on the strong serving of Jordyn Wright.

Trailing 10-4, Shiloh regained the serve when Wright assisted a kill to Christina Collector. Wright took over at server and led the Generals on a 7-0 run, including a stretch of five straight aces.

"They had a run with a great server," Zidow said.

Collector would later pound out another kill to close out the second game 25-18, setting up a third and deciding game.

As in the previous game, Parkview jumped out to an early lead, taking control 7-2. Unlike Game 2, Shiloh was unable to string together a series of points, and the Panthers eventually closed out the tournament with a 25-17 win.

"We just told ourselves we had to keep pushing and not get relaxed," Parkview hitter Enjoli Johnson said. "Their serving hurt us and we became too relaxed, but we got it back."

Johnson's hitting was a big part of Parkview's win as she tallied 16 kills in the final match while Carroll finished with 26 assists.

Defense was also huge in the Panthers' win as Kelly Hayden negated several strong hits from the Shiloh front with 16 digs.

"We had a little bit of a mental breakdown, but I think we definitely focused between the second and third game," Zidow said. "Kelly (Hayden) was all over the place and really helped turn it around."

Parkview will open up the Class AAAAA state tournament at home Saturday against the fourth seed from Area 4, while Shiloh will host as the No. 3 seed from Area 4.

Grayson's 24-26, 25-20, 25-27 over Brookwood gave the Rams the third seed, while the Broncos finished fourth.