Woodland volleyball looking past first loss

Photo by Brian Paglia / Woodland seniors Pam Konken (left) and Nicole Findura celebrate after a winning point during a match earlier this season.

Photo by Brian Paglia / Woodland seniors Pam Konken (left) and Nicole Findura celebrate after a winning point during a match earlier this season.

STOCKBRIDGE — Woodland senior middle hitter Nicole Findura had never experienced a streak of success like this before, one that built and built with every match, out of which came pressure and expectations that couldn’t quite be controlled.

“You are doing so good you don’t want to lose and lose the streak,” Findura said.

And then they lost.

Woodland’s unprecedented run of success came to an end Saturday at the Conyers Classic tournament with a 25-16, 25-15 loss to Savannah Country Day in the semifinals of the Gold Bracket.

The Lady Wolfpack went 28 straight matches without a loss before meeting Savannah Country Day, an unprecedented feat at Woodland and likely all of Henry County. It was a run that started to sway some — just some — attention away from the Wolfpack football team and one that certainly got the attention of the state as the Lady Wolfpack rose to No. 3 in the Class AAAA rankings.

Now, Woodland (28-1) has a week off during Henry County Schools fall break to get ready for the county championship and Region 4-AAAA tournament.

It’s good timing, according to Woodland coach Gerri Wright.

“I think they need a rest,” Wright said. “They’ve been going hard non-stop since the beginning of the season. Let everybody heal. We’ll make more bruises next week.”

Findura agrees, though she said she worries the disappointment of the Savannah Country Day loss — and the end of the team’s magnificent play — will linger during the break.

“I like playing all the time,” Findura said. “It kind of stinks we lost and then we’re going on break. I don’t want anybody to get down on themselves. That’s the only real worry.”

Wright said there’s no need for the Lady Wolfpack to be discouraged. Woodland went through the Conyers Classic like it had the rest of its schedule — with brisk victories against Jefferson (No. 5 in Class AA), Locust Grove (No. 8 in Class AAAA) and Rockdale County and a gutsy three-game victory against Houston County — before losing to a Savannah Country Day team ranked No. 4 in Class A.

“They played real well but lost to a really good team,” Wright said. “They were all disappointed, but they seemed OK. We didn’t lose to a team that shouldn’t have lost to.”

The loss did reveal a weakness in the team’s serve receive that Wright plans to address this week at practice.

“They just had a lot of good servers,” Wright said.

But the loss did nothing to diminish Woodland’s talent or chemistry. Senior Pam Konken leads the team in aces (77), kills (157) and digs (165). Findura has a team-high 52 blocks to go along with 121 kills and 44 aces. Tierra Gardner leads the team with 184 assists, just ahead of Bria Rivers (159).

“This is a team effort,” Wright said. “Nobody’s slacking. Everybody’s giving 100 percent.”

“I think we’re OK actually,” Findura said. “We just had a bad game.”