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VOLLEYBALL: Flowery Branch comes up short against Marist in Class 4A title match
Flowery Branch volleyball 2021
Flowery Branch's Ashlyn Browning (5) returns a shot against Marist in the Class 4A state championship match on Nov. 6, 2021 at the Lake Point Sports Complex in Emerson. Photo by Bill Murphy

Flowery Branch’s bid for its first volleyball state championship in school history came up just a bit short. 

However, it wasn’t for a lack of effort, energy and great displays of athleticism against the defending Class 4A state champions Marist. 

Flowery Branch stretched the best-of-five match to four sets, putting on a spirited rally in the last set but eventually lost to Marist (25-18, 23-25, 25-15, 25-22) on Saturday at the Lake Point Sports Complex in Emerson. 

Still, the Lady Falcons finished with their best season in school history.

Leading into the title match, Flowery Branch was dominant, winning 12 of 14 sets in four postseason victories.  

“I couldn’t be any more proud of this team,” junior Lyza Thigpen said shortly after the match finished. 

“I’m so proud of what our program has accomplished here at Flowery Branch,” senior outside hitter Ashlyn Browning said. 

In 2021, Flowery Branch’s squad had many firsts for volleyball in the school’s 20-year history. 

The Lady Falcons were back in Northwest Georgia for the title match, after beating Northwest Whitfield in the Final Four on the same floor on Oct. 30. 

Flowery Branch also won a pair of home playoff matches (Druid Hills in the first round, Pickens in the state quarterfinals). 

Even facing one of the elite programs in the entire state, regardless of classification, the Lady Falcons didn’t look overwhelmed in front of a robust crowd of fans and students for both sides. 

After a lackluster first set, Flowery Branch rallied to win the second set, the only set Marist dropped in all five rounds of the postseason. 

The final set was also a battle. 

Flowery Branch found itself down by 7 points at about the midway point. 

Still, the Lady Falcons got their fans cheering by rallying to tie it at 21-21. 

After long points, which was the story for the entire match, Marist was able to finish it off for the Atlanta private school’s fifth volleyball championship since 2014. 

Despite the loss, the Lady Falcons made quite a run with the No. 2 seed in the postseason. 

Always the optimist, Lady Falcons second-year coach Taylor Bowman was quick to point out the joy of the journey for her program. 

“I couldn’t have asked for more from these girls,” Bowman said. “I feel like we represented Flowery Branch High and Hall County very well here in the state finals.”