When the final whistle was blown, the celebration began for coach Randi Moore and Gainesville’s volleyball team.
For the first time in school history, a volleyball area championship belongs to Big Red.
“It was our time,” Moore said.
The Lady Red Elephants defeated Lanier 3-1 in the Area 8-AAAAA championship game Saturday night at Apalachee High after previously topping Loganville and Clarke Central in the tournament.
Gainesville will next host Area 5-AAAAA No. 4 seed Alexander in the first round of the state playoffs on Thursday at 6 p.m.
For her efforts, Moore was named the 8-AAAAA Coach of the Year. She has been with the team for the past seven years, including five as head coach.
Moore said she was surprised and humbled the other coaches thought she deserved the recognition.
“I think the other coaches realize how I care about (the girls’) lives and the relationship I have with them in season and out of season,” Moore said. “We’re very close. They’re very much a part of my daily life.”
Moore’s initial reaction was tears.
“When you give everything you have, you don’t want any sort of glorification for anything you love doing,” she said. “I love what I do. Seeing the reaction of the girls and the other coaches saying, ‘You really do deserve it,’ (made it special).”
Moore wasn’t the only one wearing the red and black to be honored with awards.
Sydney King and Savannah Roys were both named First-Team All-Area. Tanai Watson and Abby Alexander were both named Second-Team All-Area.
After topping Loganville on Thursday, Gainesville swept Clarke Central 2-0 before defeating Lanier 2-0 in the semifinal. The Longhorns won their way back into the final later that day, but the Red Elephants were able to close out the victory, 25-18, 20-25, 25-18, 25-15.
“We knew going into it that we were going to refuse to lose,” Moore said. “We have the depth, we have the talent and we are the ones to beat. We knew going in these teams were going to be ready play. I think going out there and being loud really set the tone for the day.”
King, the First-Team All-Area libero, led the squad with 38 digs. Watson, a Second-Team All-Area outside hitter, had 25 kills on the day, while Roys, a First-Team All-Area setter, had four aces, 69 assists and 31 digs. Alexander, a Second-Team All-Area middle hitter, had 6 blocks and 9 kills.
Moore was quick to laud several members of her team for their play, but ultimately chalked it up to a complete team victory.
“We’re fortunate to have more than one player who gives it their all in their position,” Moore said. “We’re a team on and off the bench. They support each other whether they’re on the court playing or whether they’re on the bench cheering. We really are fortunate to have such a great group of girls.”
As news of the region championship victory spread, social media lit up with messages of support for the team. Moore said her team loves the support they have.
“The girls love it and it really means so much to them knowing they are supported and, without a doubt, superstars in their minds,” Moore said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without the Big Red family.”
Moore said her team’s goal coming in was to win a region championship. Now that they’ve done that, they’re just “living in the moment” and trying to go as far as they can in the state tournament.