Cross country, volleyball teams win state titles in a championship weekend for the Golden Lions

Lindsey Nelson, Staff Writer

It was a weekend full of gold and silver as three teams brought home trophies from their state competitions on Saturday, November 6. The girls cross country team captured the 5A state title for the third year in a row, the boys cross country team finished as state runner-up, and the volleyball team capped off their historic season with a victory in the championship match, their first since 2018.

The morning began in Carrollton with cold and windy conditions for the cross country runners. Leading the way for the girls cross country team was junior Grace Von Bibersteain, who won the individual title with a time of 18:56, 18 seconds faster than the next closest runner from Blessed Trinity.

“It feels so awesome. I’m just so happy with this team and how we’ve all supported each other through everything. We really bonded, and I think that’s how we’ve done so well,” Von Biberstein said in an interview with Georgia Milesplit. 

Junior Hannah Schemmel battled an injury for most of the season, but she finished in third with a time of 19:24. In her first year with the cross country team, junior Margot Humphrey placed sixth, followed by sophomore Jessica Sheehan in seventh and sophomore Layne Boyle in 19th. Also competing for the Golden Lions was sophomore Maggie White (25th) and junior Caroline Koziol (40).  

The team finished with an average time of 19:31. Blessed Trinity came in second place, followed by Midtown in third.

For the boys, senior Ryan Boyle finished sixth overall with a time of 16:44. Senior Nic Moore (8th) and junior Brian Knuth (10th) also placed in the top 10, followed by sophomore Dominic Noel (16th), senior Sutter Guttery (37th), senior Patrcik Kelly (46th), and sophomore Austin Kalbas (87th). 

Decatur finished just ahead of the Golden Lions, and Blessed Trinity placed third. 

Later in the afternoon, the volleyball team took home another state title at Lakepoint Sports Complex in Cartersville. With stands packed full of friends, family, and classmates, they swept their opponent Greenbrier in only three sets. 

St. Pius started off their season strong with a #1 state ranking in addition to a national ranking. The team worked tirelessly to make it to the championship court, especially the seniors who were part of the most recent state championship team in 2018 when they were freshmen. You can read more about their journey here. 

“It means a lot because to win at the beginning and the end is really cool,” senior Kate LaRocco said. 

The four seniors that won the state championship their freshman year were key players this past weekend. Annemarie Rakoski, Lura Underwood, and LaRocco’s kills put countless points on the board while Emma Farrell’s unwavering defense prevented Greenbrier from taking the lead. 

The Golden Lions won the first set 25-17 and followed that with a 25-12 win in the second. 

“Halfway through the game, we all knew we were state champions,” senior setter Avery Brown said. 

Excitement on and off the court grew as the third set began. Parents and our devoted St. Pius superfan Mr. Martin Scott led chants with the student section while team celebrations intensified with each point. 

After a strong offensive kill from senior Haley Froseth, the game point rested in the hands of LaRocco as she stepped to the line to serve. 

“I was just thinking that this is the last point and last serve I’ll ever have in high school volleyball,” she said. 

St. Pius clinched the third set 25-16 on LaRocco’s serve, which earned them the 5A State Championship.

The cross country teams and volleyball team brought home three trophies to proudly display, and three banners will soon be hanging in the gym. Congratulations to all of our Golden Lion athletes and coaches!