That can no longer be said after Saturday.
The Lady Phoenix won three matches culminating with a straight-set victory over Cartersville in the Area 5-AAA championship match on Saturday at Cartersville’s “Storm Center.”
The Lady Phoenix beat Ringgold (25-10, 25-12), North Murray (25-21, 25-21) and Cartersville (25-21, 25-14, 25-10) with Kristi Vaughn leading the way as she was named the MVP for Area 4-AAA after the match. Vaughn had 42 assists, 42 digs and 14 kills in the three matches combined on Saturday.
Carrie Cheeks, who was also named to the All-Area Team, had a big day as well with 43 kills, 11 digs and five blocks. Nikki Eitutis dded 79 digs, Savannah Wilbanks had 62 digs, Jennilee Gentry had 37 digs and Haley Ponder had 11 kills.
“This is huge for us,” said Sonoraville coach Trace Vaughn. “These girls faced a lot of adversity this year, and they stuck together. They’ve put so much energy and effort into this, and their attitude has been unbelievable. I’ve coached almost 30 years, and I’ve never been around a group like this.
“I felt confident coming into today that we could do this. The attitude and work ethic of the girls has been unbelievable this year.”
The Lady Phoenix (36-9), who have now won 15 straight matches, will now have the possibility for home-court advantage in the first three rounds of the state tournament if they advance.
“Being a No. 1 seed is huge,” said Trace Vaughn.
“We have the possibility for home court in the first three rounds, and we’ve never had that advantage before. Our crowd was into the game today, and we can’t wait to be at home for the state tournament.”
Kristi Vaughn, a junior, said this area title has been a long time coming for her and her teammates.
“We’ve been working toward this since my freshman year,” said Kristi Vaughn. “We set our goals high and came together as a family to make it happen. Especially today, we came together and never let our energy down, and that really makes a difference when you have energy.”
Her teammate Cheeks said the emotion of the area title is something she doesn’t really have enough words to explain.
“It really means a lot because we’ve never done it before,” said Cheeks. “We’ve been close a few times so to get this win and finish it off, it feels really good.
“We had a great crowd cheering us on today, and that helped motivate us. We were so excited during that last match, and our intensity stayed the same throughout it.”
Now, the Lady Phoenix will refocus after celebrating for a few days and get ready for the state tournament which starts on Wednesday when they host McNair in the first round at 6:30 p.m. Expectations for the tournament are very high.
“I’ve been looking at it since about the midway point of the season, and I really feel like we can make a run to the final six,” said Trace Vaughn. “I’ve talked to someone who has seen some of the best teams in AAA play this year, and they think we can compete with them. I know the girls will be ready for whatever challenge we face.”
“We’re not done yet,” added Kristi Vaughn. “We’re going to keep working, and we’re hoping to get to the championship match."