Pace Volleyball Wins State Championship

The team, led by Head Coach Anna Bush, rejoices after winning the volleyball AAA state championship. Photo: Fred Assaf

The Pace varsity volleyball team reached the summit on Oct. 28, defeating Westminster in five thrilling sets 25-23, 21-25, 22-25, 25-17 and 15-8 to capture Pace’s first ever volleyball state championship. Most state championship matches are less than dramatic, but that was not to be for the Pace Knights. Both teams came out swinging, trading point for point in the first set with Pace taking that very close set.

Westminster showed nothing but determination throughout after suffering through a drama-filled regular season. The post season was a new beginning for Westminster after a coaching change and several changes in their starting line up. They were confident and playing their best volleyball of the season.

Pace did well to keep the third set close after falling behind by 10 points midway through. It was ignited by sophomore Dominique Turner (3 aces), finding her serving rhythm and scoring multiple points late in the set to give Pace new life and new hope. Even though Westminster won the set, the momentum was beginning to shift.

Sets four and five are always about mental toughness and conditioning. Pace showed plenty of both. Freshman setter Kalissa Greene was cool, calm and collected the entire match. She dished out 40 assists to various attackers as well as blocking, serving and defending. Not many freshmen play big in high pressure matches, but Greene showed maturity beyond her years as she did all season.

Once Turner, junior Alexandra Baker and senior Cameron Perchik started to receive serve more consistently, the Knights offense began to overpower the Westminster defense. Sophomore Ada Jane Agolli led the team with 25 kills. Sophomore Lucy Ferry established a wall on the right side, preventing Westminster attackers from scoring. Turner, Baker and Perchik all made timely digs defensively – many in the last two sets.

Pace pulled away in the last set and the moment of victory was glorious.

Junior and co-captain Davis Mathis was instrumental in the team’s success in countless ways, but especially in helping the team unite with the common goal of winning a state championship. Despite suffering a back injury requiring surgery that kept her out of the lineup all season, she didn’t miss a single match or practice all season and the team would not be celebrating if it wasn’t for her.

Juniors Lily Reckford and Sophie Beck displayed tremendous determination to improve and played hard every point. The team would not have made it this far without them. Senior Marissa Schwarz also contributed in huge matches vs Lovett that solidified the team’s No. 3 seed to start the playoffs. Senior Meggie Steiger, freshman Hannah Pace and juniors Nicole Petrosky and Paige Fleming also added to many victories throughout the season. Junior Caroline Singleton was instrumental in keeping valuable statistics.

Many other people contributed to the success of this State Championship team. Hundreds of students, staff, faculty and other members of the Pace community came to cheer the Knights on. The fan base was loud and it ignited the team. Coaches Scott McEwan and Jennifer Jones were invaluable, as were Ruth Fuqua and the Pace strength and conditioning staff.

Another huge reason for the team’s success is the lower program coaches who coached many of the varsity players, including Tim Hornor and Hayley Shoji, Bobbi Boyer and Andrew Heacock, Jen McGurn and Hayley Hardwick.

2017 AAA Volleyball State Champions! Has a nice RING to it!