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Today, we release the Week 1 rankings for volleyball and softball as Fall Sports get set to open competition. Our countdown to the 2018 MetroPCS Corky Kell Classic continues as we gear up to kickoff the GHSA season on Thursday, Aug. 16 with the largest high school football event in the country. 

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Defending first-time champs headline 7A
The 2018 fast-pitch softball season is around the corner and teams across the state are preparing for rebuilding seasons, postseason runs and everything in between. Last year saw six of the eight classes name first-time champions as East Coweta won in AAAAAAA, Creekview took AAAAAA, Locust Grove claimed AAAAA, Rockmart was victorious in AA and Wesleyan took the A-Private crown.

Calhoun, which took AAA's title, had previously won titles in AA in 2013 before winning back-to-back years in AAA (2014-15). Gordon Lee, which took the A-Public title, has won eight softball championships - A-Public in 2004, 2010-13, 2015-17; AA in 2015.

In the state's highest classification, East Coweta's 10-0 victory over Etowah in the Class AAAAAAA state championship game marked the first-ever softball title for the Lady Indians. But, when looking at their returning players, it's hard to believe that it will be their last title.

Rising senior Kelley Lynch will return for East Coweta. The star pitcher and infielder helped East Coweta to a 36-0 record during the championship run. On the mound, Lynch finished 14-0 while striking out 193 batter and finishing with a .045 ERA in 93 innings. Her accomplishments earned her the Newnan Times-Herald Player of the Year award and the Georgia Dugout Player of the Year award.

Creekview debuts at the top of Class AAAAAA after being taken to an extra game in the championship series against Allatoona. Creekview, who'd run flawlessly through the bracket defeating Houston County in the first round, Cambridge in the quarterfinals and Allatoona in the semis. The 6-5 victory sent Allatoona to the loser's bracket where it would survive one game against Evans before again meeting Creekview. Allatoona fought for a 7-6 victory in the first game before Creekview rallied to take the final game 8-7.

Through top-ranked Locust Grove's Class AAAAA championship run, the Lady Wildcats weathered closely contested matchups after making it safely through the playoff brackets. In the first round of the championship brackets, Locust Grove survived a 6-5 thriller against defending-champion Buford before advancing past Loganville 5-4. In the semis against Wayne County, Locust Grove advanced with a 14-2 victory before meeting Wayne again in the championship game.

Locust Grove will have to weather losses to graduation moving into 2018 but, with a solid group of young players who know how to win a championship, the Lady Wildcats have the experience to put together another deep run.
No. 1 Northside-Columbus took it's first-ever state title after being taken to an extra game in the championship series by No. 2 Stephens County last season. Northside had moved through the bracket easily before dropping the 2-0 Game 1 to Stephens. It's 6-0 victory in Game 2 sealed the title. This year, Northside returns a large portion of the moving parts from the title run after losing few seniors to graduation.

Calhoun's victory over Cook County in the Class AAA title game last season marked the fourth title for the Lady Yellow Jackets since the 2013 season, only missing in 2016. Entering 2018, Calhoun's young but talented squad lost only three seniors from the championship team and a majority of the moving parts return.

Rockmart's run through the Class AA brackets last year featured mixed results, from blowouts to closely-contested games, Rockmart handled a variety of games on its way to the title. The young team, which featured just four seniors in the title run, has the talent and experience to advance deep into the postseason again this year.

Gordon Lee continued its storied softball history by adding an eighth title to its credit following its 14-4 defeat of Trion in the Class A-Public championship game last season. This year, top-ranked Gordon Lee is favorited again to produce another deep playoff run. Since 2010, the Lady Trojans have won seven titles, only missing out in 2014.

In Class A-Private, Wesleyan weathered a 3-0 to Tattnall Square in the first game of the championship series before rebounding to win the title with a 5-4 victory in Game 2. The Lady Wolves featured just three seniors on the roster last year and, with young talent, Wesleyan could be poised to defend its title in 2018. Tattnall Square, however, is also prepared to produce another deep playoff run with young, experienced talent.

1. East Coweta
2. Etowah
3. Archer
4. Kennesaw Mountain
5. Lowndes
6. Parkview
7. Collins Hill
8. Lambert
9. North Gwinnett
10. Grayson
1. Creekview
2. Allatoona
3. Evans
4. Houston County
5. Pope
6. Cambridge
7. Effingham County
8. Greenbrier
9. Harrison
10. Dalton
1. Locust Grove
2. Wayne County
3. Buford
4. Carrollton
5. Loganville
6. Walnut Grove
7. Jones County
8. Union Grove
9. Statesboro
10. Harris County
Class AAAA
1. Northside-Columbus
2. Stephens County
3. West Laurens
4. Marist
5. Madison County
6. Northwest Whitfield
7. Eastside
8. Perry
9. Jefferson
10. Spalding
Class AAA
1. Calhoun
2. Cook
3. Worth County
4. Bremen
5. Jackson County
6. Sonoraville
7. Pike
8. Rutland
9. East Hall
10. Appling County
Class AA
1. Rockmart
2. Monticello
3. Banks County
4. Dodge County
5. Armuchee
6. Harlem
7. Bacon County
8. Bleckley County
9. Berrien
10. Screven County
Class A-Public
1. Gordon Lee
2. Trion
3. Mt. Zion
4. Georgia Military
5. Echols County
6. Bowdon
7. Emanuel County Insitute
8. Marion County
9. Wilcox County
10. Washington-Wilkes
Class A-Private
1. Wesleyan
2. Tattnall Square
3. Eagle's Landing Christian
4. First Presbyterian Day
5. Prince Avenue Christian
6. Stratford
7. Mount de Sales
8. George Walton Academy
9. Mount Pisgah
10. Brookstone


Class AA/A-Public offers new-look poll
The 2018 season is on the horizon and across the state, teams will face a different landscape after changes were voted on over the off season. In April, the GHSA regionalized classifications AAAA-AAAAAAA while classifications A-AAA will continue to utilize the Area configuration. The GHSA allows sports to be regionalized if at least 50% of the schools in the region participate in said sport.

There are too few Class A-Public volleyball teams to have an effective Class A-Public/Private split, so the GHSA decided to combine AA and A into AA/A but still award separate public and private champions. Basically, no private schools will remain in Class AA competition and now Class A-Public schools will battle it out with AA Public schools instead of Class A-Private schools.
The new AA/A-Public classification consists of eight areas with 57 total schools competing which allows for fresh competition through the playoffs and into the championship brackets.

In the state's highest classification, the top-ranked Walton Lady Raiders are in the hunt for their 13th girls volleyball title and fourth-consecutive state title. Since 2010, Walton has won seven titles, only missing in 2014 when North Cobb took the crown. Walton standout Gabby Gonzales earned 2017-18 Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year honors following her junior season last year. The 6-foot-4 outside hitter led the Lady Raiders to a 40-1 record, AAAAAAA championship and a No. 1 national ranking while compiling 558 kills, 222 digs, 37 blocks and 31 service aces.

Etowah, which fell to Walton 3-0 in the championship bracket last season, follows close behind in the debut rankings. The Lady Eagles had not dropped a set in the championship bracket before falling to Walton in the final match. Third-ranked Mill Creek fell to Walton in the semifinals of the championship bracket last season. Newnan, ranked fourth, had it's season cut short with a 3-0 loss to runner-up Etowah in last year's semis.

Top-ranked Harrison capped off it's 2017-18 season with a 3-0 victory over No. 2 Alpharetta in the AAAAAA championship following the All-Cobb semifinal of Harrison vs. Pope and Johns Creek vs. Alpharetta. The Lady Hoyas dropped just one set, to Pope in the semis, through the championship bracket. Harrison's 45-10 finish was highlighted by a flawless 10-0 run through its region. The victory marked the second-consecutive title and third overall after winning the Class AAAAA (state's highest class at the time) in 2006. Alpharetta, last year's runner-up, takes the No. 2 spot entering the 2018 season. The Lady Raiders dropped eight matches last year but only six matches were to teams in Georgia, including the championship, and one match was to seemingly unbeatable Walton.

Defending-champion McIntosh takes the No. 1 spot in Class AAAAA entering the 2018 season. The Lady Chiefs have won three titles, but last year's was the first since 2013 with the first coming in 2007. In the championship match, after not dropping a set through four matches, McIntosh was taken to the final set by No. 2 Buford before it's 3-2 victory.

Entering the season, top-ranked Marist is still savoring it's 3-0 sweep of Blessed Trinity in the championship match as it captured it's eighth volleyball title (Open Event - 1994, 1997; Class AAA - 1998-99; Class AAAA - 2000, 2006, 2014, 2017).  The Lady War Eagles did not drop a set through the playoff and championship brackets. Second-ranked Blessed Trinity enters this year in the hunt for its sixth volleyball title after being denied a four-peat last year. The Lady Titans won in Class AAA in 2012, 2014, 2015 and Class AAAA in 2016.

Pace Academy capped off 2017-18 with a 3-2 shootout victory over Area rival Westminster. It marked the first-ever volleyball title for the Lady Knights. Second-ranked Westminster was vying for its ninth. Pace's roster last season featured just two seniors which could mean another deep run into the playoffs for the young Knights.

The newly formed Class AA/A-Public allows the smaller A-Public class to be absorbed by the Class AA teams which allows for evenly matched teams to face off toward the end of the season versus Class A-Public being easily handled by the Private schools. The new classification is led by defending Class AA champion Coosa following its 3-0 victory over St. Vincent's in the Class AA championship match last season. The win marked the first-ever title for the Lady Eagles. Runner-up St. Vincent's will now compete in Class A-Private. Armuchee, which fell to Coosa in the semifinals last year, holds the No. 2 ranking entering the season.

Defending-champion Calvary Day holds the No. 1 ranking entering the season following its near flawless run through the playoff and championship brackets last year. The victory marked the third-consecutive state championship for Calvary. No. 2 Mount Paran was the runner-up in last year's Class A championship bracket and takes the No. 2 ranking entering the season. St. Vincent's, the Class AA runner-up, is third following its loss to Coosa in the AA championship match.

1. Walton
2. Etowah
3. Mill Creek
4. Newnan
5. South Forsyth
6. Lambert
7. North Forsyth
8. East Coweta
9. Lassiter
10. Kennesaw Mountain

1. Harrison
2. Alpharetta
3. Pope
4. Johns Creek
5. Sequoyah
6. Greenbrier
7. Effingham County
8. Glynn Academy
9. Centennial
10. Gainesville

1. McIntosh
2. Buford
3. Riverwood
4. Starr's Mill
5. Chamblee
6. Whitewater
7. Carrollton
8. Harris County
9. Loganville
10. Veterans

Class AAAA
1. Marist
2. Blessed Trinity
3. Woodward Academy
4. St. Pius X
5. Northside-Columbus
6. Cartersville
7. Richmond Academy
8. Hardaway
9. Columbus
10. North Oconee

Class AAA
1. Pace Academy
2. Westminster
3. Greater Atlanta Christian
4. Lovett
5. North Hall
6. Calhoun
7. Jackson County
8. Savannah Arts
9. East Hall
10. Islands

Class AA/A
1. Coosa
2. Armuchee
3. Chattooga
4. Westside-Augusta
5. Rabun County
6. Jordan
7. Gordon Lee
8. Harlem
9. Pepperell
10. Temple

Class A Private
1. Calvary Day
2. Mount Paran Christian
3. St. Vincent's
4. Walker
5. Savannah Country Day
6. Hebron Christian
7. St. Francis
8. Mount de Sales
9. Brookstone
10. Landmark Christian



Thursday, Aug. 16 at ROME's BARRON STADIUM
5:30 p.m. Ridgeland vs. Calhoun
8:30 p.m. Rome vs. Marietta

5:30 p.m. Buford vs. Tucker
8:30 p.m. Archer vs. Milton

Saturday, Aug. 18, at MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM
9 a.m. Kell vs. East Coweta
11:45 a.m. Mill Creek vs. Walton
2:45 p.m. McEachern vs. Colquitt County
5:45 p.m. Brookwood vs. North Gwinnett
8:45 p.m. Norcross vs. Mays

*Tickets for Aug. 16th at Rome can be purchased  HERE
*Tickets for Aug. 17th at Georgia State can be purchased  HERE
*Tickets for Aug. 18 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium can be purchased  HERE

© Score Publishing, LLC 2018