GAC dominant again while sweeping into AA-A Elite Eight

NORCROSS -- Greater Atlanta Christian has made the Class AA-A volleyball state Final Four twice, but coach Kristy Shelton is quick to admit that she has never had a team like her present one.

"This is absolutely the most athletic and experienced team," Shelton said. "There is no comparison. This is the best we've had."

GAC (39-4) showed off its talent and resolve again Tuesday, sweeping Our Lady of Mercy 25-12, 25-15, 25-10 at the Long Forum to advance to Saturday's state quarterfinals.

The Spartans, ranked No. 2 in the most recent coaches poll, have won 14 straight and haven't lost a single game during the streak.

GAC has seven seniors back from last year's quarterfinal team and added senior transfer Dede Bohannon for a dominating presence at the net.

The former Newnan standout had 12 kills and nine digs in the second-round win over No. 9-ranked Our Lady of Mercy (33-12).

"We would have been good without her," Shelton said. "But she takes us to another level."

Teams are reseeded for the Elite Eight, with GAC having to wait to see who its next opponent is.

"I'm sure that we'll be in the top two seeds, which means we will be at home on Saturday," said Shelton, whose team lost at Athens Academy in the quarterfinals a year ago.

Blessed Trinity, which defeated GAC early in the season, is ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll.

The Titans (47-10) swept Atlanta International on Tuesday.

GAC is 33-1 since starting the season 6-3, with the only loss coming to Pope, ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA. The Spartans have also lost to Harrison, No. 1 in Class AAAAA, and St. Pius, No. 2 in Class AAA.

GAC trailed just once in each of the three games against Our Lady of Mercy and every time it was just by a point. The Spartans trailed only 2-1 in the first two games and 1-0 in the third.

GAC had 41 kills in the match and missed just two serves.

Janaya Simmons had 12 kills to match Bohannon and Morgan McKnight added eight kills. Catherine Chason contributed 11 digs and three aces, while Rachel Waldrop had 29 assists. Bohannon was credited with nine digs.

"I was proud of our defense and passing," Shelton said.

In truth, the Spartans dominated in all areas.

The team theme this season is "Fearsome Focus" and the Spartans have been able to do just that, going day by day while working toward their ultimate goal.

GAC has never won a volleyball state title.

"They have fun," Shelton said. "But they're extremely focused on that they want."