In just its second ever season, the Cherokee Bluff volleyball team will advance to the Class 3A quarterfinals, following a come-from-behind road victory (17-25, 17-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-11) over Savannah Arts Academy on Tuesday. With the win, the Lady Bears (20-19) move on to face Pace Academy in the state quarterfinals Saturday in Atlanta.
“Honestly, it was all 14 girls that helped us win,” Cherokee Bluff coach Laura DeLaPerriere said. “Our setter is getting after it and getting the ball up for our hitters, and we had some incredible digs tonight by our DS’s. It’s hard to point out one or two kids, because honestly it was an entire team effort. And my coaching staff is amazing.”
Madi Phillips led the way with 13 kills and 10 blocks for Cherokee Bluff, while Sage Sutulovich had 10 kills, a block and two digs, and Camille Godfrey had four aces and 30 digs.
The Lady Bears played in a Savannah Arts gym that DeLaPerriere said was loud and echoing, causing the team to take a little time to find its bearings.
After dropping the first two sets, DeLaPerriere gathered her team for a brief pep talk.
“We got on everybody and told them that they had to do their job,” she said. “We didn’t come all the way to Savannah just to give it up.”
Cherokee Bluff came back out with renewed energy to even things up at two sets a piece. With the third set tied up at 11-11 and the entire season on the line, DeLaPerriere called a timeout to deliver one last piece of advice.
“We just talked to the girls and said look, you’ve got to give everything you’ve got,” she said. “This is the time to leave everything on the floor.”
The Lady Bears stepped up and got the job done, winning the final four points in a row and finishing off the comeback upset.
The win preserves a magical season for Cherokee Bluff for at least one more week, as the team prepares to go into the next match as another road underdog against Pace.
“All these kids, they all want the same thing, and I think that’s special,” DeLaPerriere said. “It’s hard to explain, but we’ve got some good kids in this program.”