State-ment: Northwest Whitfield advances to state volleyball finals

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Northwest Whitfield High School's volleyball team defeated Jefferson Saturday to reach the state championship match.

Northwest Whitfield High School's volleyball team faced the most adversity they have all playoffs at Jefferson on Saturday — they finally dropped a set.

The Lady Bruins (34-10), who had swept their first three playoff opponents, fell in the first set in the Final Four to Jefferson (30-8), but won the next three to advance to the Class 4A state volleyball finals next Saturday in Cartersville.

Northwest will play Marist at 2:30 p.m. next week for a chance at a state championship.

Jefferson took the first set 25-21, then Northwest won 25-14, 25-22 and 25-23 to advance to the state finals.

"They had a great crowd and student section, and I think we were a little shellshocked that first set," Northwest head coach Kelsey Ikerd. "We made some adjustments and came out firing in that second set. That helped us mentally going into the third and fourth."

Emma Hayes tallied 17 kills, 12 digs and five aces in the match, and Emma Allen had 15 assists and 12 kills.

Whitley Chumley had 21 digs, Kiara Hughes 22 assists and Kiersten Maynard five aces.

Saturday was the first appearance in the state's Final Four for the Lady Bruins volleyball program, and Northwest advances to the finals Saturday in search of their first state championship.

"This is what you dream of as an athlete," Ikerd, who played volleyball at Northwest in high school, said of reaching the state championship game. "As a coach, seeing the hard work and effort of these players is almost more rewarding than any trophy you could win as a player."

In the finals, the Lady Bruins will face a longtime volleyball power. Marist, who defeated Heritage 3-0 Saturday to reach the finals, is an 11-time volleyball state champion, the most recent title coming in 2017.

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