Staff Photo: John Bohn Greater Atlanta Christian's Jenny Mazurkiewicz, center, watches the final moments of a match as GAC is defeated by Westminster, 3 games to 2, in a Class AA State Championship Volleyball tournament match Wednesday.
NORCROSS -- It looked like an all-Gwinnett County match was a real possibility for the Class AA state volleyball championship.
Instead, neither Wesleyan nor Greater Atlanta Christian will be playing on Saturday at Marietta.
No. 1 seed Wesleyan lost a heartbreaker in five sets to No. 4 seed Lovett and No. 3 seed GAC fell to No. 2 seed Westminster in four sets on Wednesday night at Wesleyan's Yancey Gymnasium in the semifinals.
Down 14-9, Wesleyan battled back to go up 15-14 and had match point in the tie-breaker set. But Lovett rallied for an 18-16 win and the match.
"We gave them too many chances," Wesleyan coach Ted Russell said. "They're a good team and they took advantage."
Wesleyan (35-12) won the first set 25-14, but Lovett (21-13) won the second 25-16 before the Wolves took the third 25-22. The Lions' 25-23 victory in the fourth set up a showdown fifth set.
"I don't think I've ever had a state tournament match go to a fifth set," Russell said. "It is a hard way to lose."
Wesleyan hadn't been back to the Final Four since claiming a fifth state volleyball championship in six years in 2009. But the season ended one victory short of the Wolves' goal.
Lovett will play Westminster for the title after the Wildcats (28-11) held on for a 25-19, 25-19, 18-25, 26-24 win over GAC (29-10).
Jennifer Miller had 32 digs for the Wolves and Kendra Koetter had 41 assists to go with five kills and five digs. Lauren Frerking contributed 12 kills and nine digs, while Hannah Hoskin had nine of each. Anna Davis added 11 kills and three digs.
Wesleyan, which split two previous matches with Lovett this season, appeared in control after winning 25-14 in the first set. But the Lions, who finished second to Westminster in Area 4-AA, came roaring back to win the second 25-16.
Regrouping at intermission, the Wolves scored the first four points of the third set and had a 21-14 lead before Lovett rallied. Davis put the 25-22 victory away with a kill.
But Lovett came back to win the fourth set, taking a 23-18 lead and then holding off a Wesleyan comeback. That set up a thrilling fifth set that didn't end the way Wesleyan wanted.
GAC, which lost eight seniors from last year's state runner-up team, almost pulled off a classic comeback before falling to Westminster.
"I'm proud of the way we scrapped," GAC coach Kristy Shelton said. "We gave it all we had at the end and that's all you can ask."
A loud GAC student section of nearly 100 -- most in Halloween attire -- tried to do all they could to pull the Spartans through in the opening semifinal and they almost did.
"They were great," Shelton said. "They helped our girls hang in there."
GAC scored the first four points of the match and was up 11-8 in the first set before Westminster took charge and pulled away late for the 25-19 victory.
The flow and the score were the same in the second set, with Westminster taking control after trailing 10-7. After GAC got back within 21-18, the Wildcats scored four of the next five points to close out the set.
The Spartans wouldn't be denied in the third set, though. They took a 12-6 lead and built on it this time, leading 22-11 before settling for a 25-18 victory that forced a fourth set that was a classic.
Down 24-21, GAC battled back to save off elimination with three straight points. But Westminster closed out the Spartans 26-24 on a kill by Kerrie Greene.
"We really played a clean game and we were good on defense," Shelton said. "We were able to force them out of their system and that's why we won the third set and almost pulled it out."
Jennie McCarty had 31 assists and 13 digs for GAC, while Emma Taylor -- the Spartans' only other senior -- had 12 kills and 21 digs. Emily Becker, a freshman, had 26 digs and Madison Kerr contributed 13 digs and seven kills. Tayler McPherson added 12 kills, Lynsey Holton had five blocks, and Jaimisha Patel contributed six kills and three blocks.
GAC had lost to Westminster on Aug. 25, but had won all except one of its last 15 matches before the semifinal rematch. That loss was a four-setter to Wesleyan for the Area 6-AA championship and the Spartans hadn't lost a set in the state tournament.
Neither had Wesleyan coming in. But now both are done for the season.