Wesleyan's Jennifer Miller (5) returns a shot during game two against Mill Creek in the 2012 Gwinnett County volleyball girls championship on Saturday. Wesleyan defeated Mill Creek in two games.
SUWANEE -- Last year, Wesleyan was in the unusual position of losing the county tournament for the first time in the five-year history of the competition. A strong performance Saturday in the Gwinnett County Championships final put the Wolves back on top this year.
Anna Davis led the way in the finals with seven kills, Kendra Koetter added 19 assists, and Class AA No. 1 Wesleyan claimed the county title with a 25-22, 25-18 win over Class AAAAAA No. 3 Mill Creek.
The win in the finals was twice as sweet for Wesleyan coach Ted Russell, giving him not just a county championship but also career win No. 400.
"I think that's probably one of the most enjoyable matches I've had in a long time," Russell said. "Mill Creek is a sensational team, and they presented a lot of challenges for us. I thought the girls just battled and fought hard, so I'm really proud of them."
The Wolves struck quickly in the first set, going up 5-3. But Mill Creek was able to take control for a while, winning 13 of the next 19 points to build a 16-11 lead.
On the next point, Davis struck a kill to start Wesleyan on a run, winning nine of the next 13, bringing both teams together at 20-20.
Mill Creek struck next for a 21-20 lead on a kill by Audrey Hoffman. But Wesleyan pulled away with five of the next six points, finished off with kills by Davis for a 25-22 set win.
"I love (close) games like that," Davis said. "They're really fun, and it really shows what kind of team you are."
Wesleyan didn't have as much trouble in the second set, taking control with the first point off a kill by Lauren Frerking and never trailing.
The Hawks fell behind 10-7 and were able to close it to 12-11, thanks in part to four strong kills by Emily Wylie. But Wesleyan started to take off, building a 20-13 lead and scoring the final four points in the 25-18 win that clinched the title.
"We played some really good matches, just not that one," Mill Creek coach Brian Williamson said. "Gotta give it to Wesleyan. They played fantastic. They definitely exploited some of our weaknesses. And we didn't have a good match. We made a lost of mistakes, gave away too many errors, had too many problems. We just didn't quite have the magic in the last match."
Wylie was able to put kills away most of the time she lined up, getting nine in the finals on 11 attempts. But after an emotional three-set semifinal against North Gwinnett, the Hawks were a little more drained than Wesleyan, which overcame GAC in two sets in the semis.
"Wesleyan's pretty good. We just fell short in the last game," Wylie said.
"I think we got kind of tired, but we played really well against North Gwinnett."
Frerking had six kills in the finals for Wesleyan, followed closely by Katie Van Laeke's five kills. Frerking, Jennifer Miller and Emma Bivings each had fives digs.
Cayla Graham and Audrey Hoffman had four kills apiece for Mill Creek, and Kaitlyn Lattimer had 11 assists. Brittany Moore added six digs.