Athens Academy junior Peyton Wheeler jumps up to hit the ball at the net during the Lady Spartans' Final Four match at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School on Oct. 31.

Athens Academy’s volleyball team won the Region 8-A-Private championship this year and, along the way, it placed a handful of players on the all-region lists. 

The Lady Spartans were the only undefeated team in Region 8-A-Private this year. They posted a 5-0 record in the region matches. The second place team, Tallulah Falls, went 4-1. The rest of the region’s teams had two or more region losses. 

With the success in region play came six selections to the region’s postseason awards list. 

Ali Rumpel, Athens Academy’s lone senior this year, earned the Player of the Year award. Mara Thomas and Peyton Wheeler were named to the all-region first team. 

Olivia Nealy and Mary Miller were named to the second team list. Addison Ollendick-Smith received an honorable mention. 

The awards were announced during the region tournament in mid-October. 

Rumpel had 209 kills this year, as well as 57 solo blocks, 61 total blocks, 46 aces and a .496 hitting percentage. 

Those numbers help Rumpel finish off an impressive career on a high note. Across her four seasons with the Lady Spartans, Rumpel totaled 716 kills, 168 solo blocks, 172 total blocks, 144 aces and a .514 hitting percentage. 

“Good luck to Ali,” Athens Academy head coach Jane Thomas said when discussing her star senior. “She'll be playing at Hawaii Pacific next year.”

This season, Mara Thomas recorded 8.5 assists per set with 776 total assists. She also had 292 digs, 91 aces and 50 kills. 

Wheeler had a .228 hitting percentage with 305 digs, 223 kills, 67 aces and nine total blocks.

Nealy recorded 260 digs, 226 kills and 50 aces. She had a .229 hitting percentage and 11 total blocks. 

Miller finised with 219 digs, 125 kills and 40 aces. She had a .193 hitting percentage and 12 total blocks.

Ollendick-Smith had 53 kills, 38 total blocks, 31 solo blocks and a .339 hitting percentage. 

The flipside of only having one senior on the team means that Athens Academy is expected to return the rest of this year’s roster. It will do so with a wealth of experience under those players’ belt. 

The Lady Spartans finished 38-4 this year. They won playoff matches against Wesleyan, Walker and Trinity Christian Sharpsburg to advance into the Final Four round. 

Athens Academy dropped its Final Four match at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School – the eventual Class A-Private state champion – in Atlanta on Oct. 31. 

“I look forward to having the rest of the group back,” Thomas said. “They're a great group of people to coach and I can't wait. ... This is a great group of talented players. They deserve every award that they get and I'm very proud of them.”

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