Woodland volleyball players huddle during their Class AAAA second round victory at home against Dalton.
STOCKBRIDGE — Woodland senior Pam Konken admits her nerves often get the best of her before volleyball matches. It takes a wake-up call — sometimes a playful jab, always a goofy comment — from her Lady Wolfpack teammates before Konken really turns it on.
But when Konken comes to life, Woodland becomes hard to beat. Dalton couldn’t do it in the Lady Wolfpack’s 25-23, 25-16, 25-22 victory at home Tuesday in the Class AAAA second round. The senior hitter had 11 kills and four aces to lead Woodland (39-3) to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
The Lady Wolfpack will know who they play Saturday when the final eight teams are re-seeded today. Woodland could host a quarterfinals match depending on its opponent.
“It’s awesome,” Konken said about making school history. “It feels really good.”
As Woodland struggled to find a rhythm in the first game, so did Konken. She had just two kills, a service error and two missed hits. Nicole Findura carried Woodland to the win scoring the final three points with a kill, block and deft tip.
“I always get nervous before a match,” Konken said. “I don’t know why. The team has to wake me up.”
Once awakened, Konken and Woodland never looked back. She had a kill for Woodland’s first point of the second game. Then another to give the Lady Wolfpack a 4-3 lead. Back-to-back kills by Konken from the left side put Woodland ahead 7-5. Her back-to-back aces pushed the lead to 13-6 and forced Dalton to call a timeout.
Konken didn’t have another kill until the fifth point of the third game, but the Area 4-AAAA player of the year had set the tone for the rest of the match.
“That first game we looked too tight,” Woodland coach Gerri Wright said. “We didn’t look relaxed. Once they loosened up, they played great.”
Findura had six kills, three blocks and an ace, while middle hitter Malika Gardner added six kills and Tierra Gardner had five.
Southeast Whitfield 3, Jonesboro 1
The Lady Cardinals couldn’t break through on the road in the Class AAAA second round.
Jonesboro lost 25-15, 18-25, 25-20, 25-20 to No. 2-ranked Southeast Whitfield.
The Lady Cardinals ended their season 33-8.
Kim Dawkins led Jonesboro with 24 kills, but it wasn’t enough.
“It was a pretty hostile environment,” Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman said. “Probably one of the bigger crowds I’ve ever seen for a volleyball match. There were maybe 200-300 people in a little cracker jack box gym. It was a really good atmosphere for our girls and I was proud of the way we played.”
Savannah Christian 3, ELCA 1
The Lady Chargers won’t get a chance to defend their title this season.
ELCA lost at No. 4-ranked Savannah Christian, 25-22, 25-19, 15-25, 25-16, in the second round of the Class A private school tournament.
Marissa Randolph led the Lady Chargers with 13 kills and an ace.
“We played a strong schedule and feel like the girls played well all season,” ELCA first-year coach Katrina Hegeman said. “Being a young team, you’re going to win some and lose some. We’ve seen great improvement over the season.
“Like tonight, I’d say we were the better team, but we just didn’t show up.”