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ALL-AREA VOLLEYBALL TEAM: In standout season, Lady Eagles looked to Overby

December 25, 2016 GMT

A coach can teach players all he knows in practice and in team meetings, but ultimately they are stuck on the sidelines when a game is on the line.

They need a player who can not only lead by example, but also be the one on the field, court or floor to keep their teammates calm and focused.

Coosa’s Tori Overby was that player for the Lady Eagles this year. And her skill as a volleyball player coupled with her relationships with her teammates make her the 2016 Rome News-Tribune Player of the Year.

Overby’s emergence as a strong, steady leader for Coosa’s volleyball team couldn’t had come at a better time as her senior season corresponded with the most successful run in the program’s history, one that included a third straight area championship and lasted all the way to the Class AA state championship match.

“This was one of those years where you look for a player on the floor who will step up when things are tough or even going well,” Coosa coach Nic Hann said. “You look for a player to be vocal and lead the team. The other players looked to her for that.”

Overby was named the Area 3-AA Player of the Year this season and was one of three Lady Eagles selected to the Georgia Volleyball Coaches Association All-State Team.

She set the Coosa single season record for digs and aces, finishing the Lady Eagles’ 41-10 season with 393 digs and 116 aces.

She recorded 361 kills and 39 blocks as an outside hitter and had 312 serving receptions.

“What was really impressive is it wasn’t just one area where she had eye-popping stats,” Hann said. “She was one of the top players in all categories among state players.”

When it came time for the postseason, Overby reaffirmed her role as a leader for her team, helping them reach the state semifinals for the first time ever with a sweep of Rabun County.

Then came a 3-1 victory over area foe Rockmart to earn them a spot in the Class AA state finals, a first for a public school since Class A and AA were separated for volleyball in 2012.

“She wasn’t aggressive, but would pull you in and talk to you on the floor,” Hann said of Overby’s demeanor. “She was very personal in her leadership. Having a player the rest of the team trusted, you want that in your senior leader, and she definitely filled that role this year.”

Coosa lost to St. Vincent’s in the title match, but the work that Overby and her teammates had done, the feats they had accomplished and the examples they set, are now the mark for area volleyball teams.

“It’s not only the success that we had, but I want them to see the big picture of what they have done for the program and our school,” Hann said. “Our goal was to get past the Elite 8 because we had never done that. To do that this year and make the finals as well shows how hard our girls worked this season.”

2016 ROME NEWS-TRIBUNE ALL-AREA VOLLEYBALL TEAM

Coach of the Year

Nic Hann, Coosa

Hann continued to set the Lady Eagles up for success with his planning and preparation for opponents, but also helped his team take in every moment of their state playoff run by reminding them of where they came from and how far they had come.

First Team

Player of the Year

Tori Overby, Coosa

Bethanie Forsyth, Rockmart

The Lady Jackets were a state contender in their own right, and Forsyth was a force for their Final Four season. The senior captain had 120 aces, 401 assists and 335 digs as a setter.

Kristina Groux, Unity Christian

An outside hitter for the Lady Lions, Groux had 124 kills and 47 aces in her sophomore season. The GICAA All-State selection had 101 digs and a 78-percent hit rate.

Emily Deberry, Chattooga

Proving versatile for the Lady Indians as a freshman libero, Deberry had 395 digs and 41 aces this season to go along with 29 assists, 20 kills and an all-state selection.

Julia Holmes, Darlington

Holmes remained a reliable leader for the Lady Tigers this season as Darlington dealt with playing in Class A. The junior finished with 249 kills, 149 digs and 84 aces.

Callie Maffett, Darlington

The junior setter had an astonishing 536 assists for Darlington along with 139 digs and 64 aces as the team’s co-captain along with Holmes.

Anna McBurnett, Armuchee

An Area 3-AA all-area selection, McBurnett was a catalyst for the Lady Indians in a revitalizing season. The senior had 53 aces and 62 kills, while also recording 71 digs.

Taylor Melton, Chattooga

Melton proved dangerous for opponents as a setter, racking up 332 assists and 161 digs. The junior also had 55 aces and 28 kills for the Lady Indians as an all-state selection.

Taylor Roberts, Coosa

Roberts’ height and power as the Lady Eagles’ all-state middle hitter made her a threat to attacking opponents. The junior set Coosa records with 418 kills and 122 blocks.

Kasey Thacker, Coosa

A freshman, Thacker found her place on the Lady Eagles’ team quickly and finished her all-state season with 193 kills, 72 blocks, 53 aces and 59 digs.

Brandyann Wacker, Armuchee

Setting a blistering pace for the Lady Indians with 87 aces in Armuchee’s 16-11 season, Wacker also had 51 kills and 50 digs as a junior.

Courtney Wooten, Rockmart

Wooten set herself apart at the net in most matches, completing her high school career with a Final Four season that had 252 kills, 80 blocks, 75 aces and 65 digs.

Second Team

Debra Barker, Coosa

Khadeeja Brown, Rockmart

Kallan Carper, Rome

Brittany Forman, Model

Alli Hagler, Darlington

Caroline Heathcock, Chattooga

Katie Jacobs, Armuchee

Makenzie Kent, Rockmart

Annie Morgan McGraw, Chattooga

Mary Nance, Unity Christian

Brinley Smith, Coosa

Abigail Talley, Coosa

Honorable Mention

ARMUCHEE: Morgan Copeland, Victoria Reese; CHATTOOGA: Kim Hamby, Anna Krueger; COOSA: Cassie McFather; MODEL: Rian McMahan; Anna Grace Turrentine; PEPPERELL: Lakeeya Wiggins; ROCKMART: Elina Benton, Alexis Clanton; ROME: Katie Beth Davis, Emma Sheffield; UNITY CHRISTIAN: Amanda Okubo, Maggie Whitehead.