Zora Thomas

SUWANEE — More than 20 quiet minutes after Peachtree Ridge was swept from the Class AAAAAAA volleyball playoffs by fifth-ranked Roswell, the team began emerging from locker room.

A substantial cheer from family and friends greeted them.

The Lions were feisty all season, overcoming injury and odds to make the Sweet 16. Then they ran into Roswell, which came out of a region with four of the top five teams in the state. The Hornets (23-9) advanced with a 25-14, 25-9, 25-15 victory Tuesday in Suwanee.

Peachtree Ridge was one win away from matching its deepest postseason run. The Lions, with eight seniors on the roster, swept Archer in the first round. They were led all season by seniors Niki Landry, who had more than 300 kills in the regular season, and setter Aaleayah Odom with her 600-plus assists.

“Three months ago, nobody believed they were going to be the team to take it this far,” head coach Jaileen Juan said.

They didn't have the height of other teams. They didn't have the experience of other teams.

“They carried themselves with discipline and persevered and came in the gym every single day to just better themselves,” Juan said. “All the ups and downs we had — at one point in the season, we had seven injuries and not even that stopped us.

“Everybody did their part. Tonight didn't turn out the way we wanted it to. However, it does not define the amazing season we had.”

Roswell used a towering front line to go on long runs in each game. Sisters Mariah and Makaila Haislip were a 1-2 punch at the net, complimented by fellow junior Sarah Mesaros.

Peachtree Ridge stayed close early in the first and third games, but couldn't string together more than a couple of points at a time. The Hornets pulled away each time, though the final game was tight longer. Peachtree Ridge took an 8-6 lead on a kill from the back line by sophomore Zora Thomas. Tied 9-9, Roswell ripped off five straight points with Mariah Haislip serving.

The Lions (23-16) got within 14-11 on an ace from Kendall Murphy, but couldn't bridge the gap.

“(Afterward) we just talked about the way the game had shaped them as individuals and the amount of success that is awaiting them in real life,” Juan said. “They're going to be able to accomplish anything they want because they knew how to push through and persevere because of the game.

“Every tough loss, we always learned from it, that motivation and that hunger to get better.”

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