On Saturday, Nov. 7, Pace Academy’s varsity volleyball team traveled to the Champions Center in Cartersville’s Lakepoint Sports Complex to face Gordon Lee High School in the Class A/AA GHSA Volleyball State Championship presented by Mizuno.
The Knights—2017, 2018 and 2019 Class AAA state champions—looked to set the standard in their new classification. Under the leadership of head coach Anna Bush and assistant coaches Scott McEwan and Taylor Bryan, the team had claimed the area title and swept all of its playoff opponents en route to the finals.
Gordon Lee, making its first-ever state finals appearance, proved to be a formidable opponent. Pace took the first two sets before the Trojans bounced back and claimed the third and fourth, forcing a fifth. Buoyed by a crowd of masked supporters, the Knights fought hard and took the title with a 15-8 win.
The season was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Knights, who graduated a class of standout seniors. But the team was undeterred. Led by seniors Elliot Mathis and Hannah Pace, the Knights welcomed 10 new players, all of whom stepped up to carry on the squad’s tradition of excellence.
“We weren’t quite sure what to expect this season,” says Bush. “Not only were we dealing with COVID-19 and all of the unknowns associated with that, but we were competing in a new classification with a young, untested team. I never look at a year as a ‘rebuilding’ year, but rather a ‘reloading’ year. This is what this year’s team was about. Ultimately, we all came together to pull this off. I’m grateful to our upperclassmen for leading by example, to our athletics and administrative teams, and to our fans, who came out to support us whenever COVID protocols allowed. This team is a testament to the strength of the Pace community.”
Following the championship season, Bush was named GHSA Class A/AA Coach of the Year; freshman Grace Agolli was GHSA Class A/AA Player of the Year; and freshman Ellie Siskin was selected to the GHSA Class A/AA All-State Team.