ELCA stops Wesleyan comeback

McDONOUGH — When it comes to the state quarterfinals, no game comes easy.

For No. 7 Wesleyan, that was evident against No. 3 Eagles Landing Christian Academy, as the Chargers held off the Wolves come-from-behind effort to win in four sets, 25-16, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23.

"Even up by two games I told our girls that it's hard to beat a good team three games in a row," said Eagles Landing head coach Jim Barlow. "They gave us a good fight and showed us some things we need to work on to get ready for the semifinals."

Down early in the third set, Wesleyan (32-16) strung together good rallies play-after-play to take a 9-6 lead, culminating with a block by Lauren Frerking on ELCA's Mara Green, who is committed to Florida State.

As Wesleyan continued to lead 14-9, they seemingly took a 15-9 lead when a kill attempt sailed out-of-bounds for the Chargers (35-7). However, Callie Bivings informed the referee the ball tipped off her hand and the point should be awarded to ELCA.

"That's an honor call," said Wesleyan head coach Ted Russell. "It's all about being honest. One point doesn't make the difference in a game, but their integrity does. Our girls don't get affected by those, because that's the way we play. Things like that happen, and our kids do the right thing."

The Wolves were able to continue to hold the lead until it got to 19-19 when the Chargers started to find floor space on their kill attempts to take four of the next six points. However, the scoring would stop there in the third game for the Chargers as the Wolves got a tip over by Bivings and two kills by Anna Davis to seal the third game, 25-23.

"It's hard to find an answer for Mara," Russell said. "We kept rotating her around to try to keep her out of the play."

The fourth game saw Wesleyan take ahold of the momentum as it came back from 14-9 down, scoring five-straight points to tie the game at 14. During that run, the Wolves got two aces from Bivings.

As the teams battled back-and-forth, neither gave an inch with the game being tied at 22 after a kill from the back line by Wesleyan's libero Jennifer Miller. The teams traded points again, setting up an epic final two points, both going in favor of ELCA, including a block by Green to send the Chargers to the semifinals.

"I felt like we didn't pass well in the third and fourth games," Barlow said. "We weren't getting Mara the ball and they took advantage of that."

The first two games were mostly identical for the Chargers. Both times they jumped out to 3-0 leads and by the time they scored 15 points, they never let the Wolves get closer than two points, including scoring the last three points in both games for wins.

Katie Van Laeke led the team with 11 kills, while Hannah Hoskin had seven kills and 11 digs. Bivings also had 29 assists and seven digs, while Alana Broe had six kills.

For ELCA, Green had 27 kills, 2 blocks and four aces, while Rachel Talleson had 11 kills, and Kodi Patterson had 38 assists.