ROSWELL — West Forsyth’s Cinderella story ended one chapter short of an Area 6-AAAAA volleyball championship on Saturday, but that did little to dampen the team’s spirits.
Seeded sixth out of seven teams entering the area tournament, the Wolverines upset two opponents they had never beaten and secured home court advantage for the first round of the state tournament.
West picked up its first-ever victories against Milton and Northview on Thursday before losing to No. 7-ranked Roswell (25-19, 25-14) Saturday morning.
The Wolverines won a rematch with Northview (25-18, 25-23) to lock up the No. 2 seed for the state playoffs before falling to the Hornets for the second time in the title matchup (25-23, 25-19).
Head coach Jim Orr said West’s sudden turnaround was all about injuries — or the lack therof.
“It’s real simple, we got healthy,” Orr said. “We have had a significant injury to a starter every week from the third week [of the season] on.
“The week after we beat Brookwood at our place we had our right side [Maryn Tanksley] go down with an ankle injury, so that took her out for six weeks. Everything after that, it kind of snowballed [with] ankle injuries, knee injuries, concussions.
“We’ve only been healthy for about two weeks.”
Senior Katie Conway said it’s been exciting to get the team back to full strength and have a chance to end the season on a high note in the state tournament.
“It’s been awesome,” Conway said.
“We really missed Maryn when she was out, so when she came back, it just gave our team that extra boost to make it to second in region.”
But West’s No. 2 seed didn’t come easy. Though the Wolverines defeated Northview 2-0, the matchup was a battle to the end.
The first game of the Wolverines’ rematch with the Titans was tied seven different times — the last at 17-17. West came out on top by scoring eight of the last nine points.
The Wolverines had to rally in game two after falling behind 22-18. This time, West won seven of the last eight points to seal the victory and earn a rematch with Roswell.
West jumped out to a 22-21 lead in the championship game and appeared ready to give the Hornets a run for their money, but Roswell rallied for a 25-23 victory and claimed the area title with a 25-19 victory in game two.
“They played their hearts out today and did a great job,” Orr said of his players. “All along we were playing for respect, but in the back of our minds, we wanted to play one [state tournament game] at home.”
Junior Madison Chilton led the Wolverines in serving aces (15) and assists (92) during the tournament, while junior Amanda Amburgy was first on the team in kills (24) and blocks (6).
Haley Ashworth, another junior, was second in both serving aces (13) and kills (19).
The Wolverines will host Peachtree Ridge, the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AAAAA, on Thursday.
“We always knew we could do it,” Conway said. “We just had to prove it to everyone else.”