Adairsville High volleyball coach Patricia McPhee said her team has had their ups and downs this season.
All of those ups and down were evident Wednesday in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament against Ringgold at Adairsville High, as the Lady Tigers got off to a slow start by losing the first two sets, rallied back to win the third and then nearly came back after an early deficit in the fourth set.
Ultimately, though, the Lady Tigers did not have enough comeback in them as Ringgold took the match in four sets by scores of 25-16, 25-19, 19-25 and 25-23.
“They played hard, kind of flat coming out, but that’s just how it goes sometimes,” McPhee said of her team’s performance. “It’s been one of our roller-coaster days, as I call them, our ups and downs.”
Overall, McPhee was pleased with her team’s season as the Lady Tigers hosted a state tournament match after taking Area 1 runner-up in the region tournament last week, and won 20 games after winning 12 a season ago.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” McPhee said. “Even though the record book doesn’t say we had a winning season, with the number of matches we played, we had a great year. We stayed right on top of things where we were supposed to be. So it’s just peaking when we need to. We have a really young team. Most of them have only played one or two years, and most of them don’t play travel ball. So it’s hard to compete against a whole team that plays club ball.”
Ringgold took the fight to Adairsville in the first set Wednesday, taking a 10-2 advantage after the first serve. The Lady Tigers clawed back, in what would become a common theme in the match, drawing as close as 14-12. However, another Ringgold run gave the other Tigers the first set, 25-16.
“It was probably [state tournament nerves],” McPhee said of the slow start in the first set. “We had fall break and we only practiced one of the two days in fall break because it’s been a long season for them.”
The second set was closer in the beginning, but a 12-3 run to make the score 20-11 allowed Ringgold to hold on for a 25-19 win.
Chloe Powell helped narrow the gap toward the end of the second set as Adairsville won four straight points with her on the service line.
Adairsville would then win four more consecutive points with Powell on the service line to open the third set. That allowed the Lady Tigers to take an early 8-1 advantage, and they would cruise from there to win the game, 25-19.
“She’s our No. 1 server that we go to,” McPhee said of Powell. “So she leads us off every time. If we can get into a good rhythm with her, we usually have a good match to come through.”
Sierra Matthews had five of her team-high 15 kills in the third set. Nakiyah Washington added three kills and Powell had 11 assists in the third set.
After a brief high for the Lady Tigers, there was a lull in the middle of the fourth set and it appeared Ringgold was going to run away with the match up 21-15. However, like Adairsville did in the third set after falling behind, the Lady Tigers rallied. They put five consecutive points together with sophomore Emily Green, who was recently called up from the JV, at the service line.
“We only have seven, so I brought a sophomore up because she has the most consistent serve out of them,” McPhee said of Green. “She did a great job for us and that’s a lot of pressure to put on a player.”
Matthews had four kills in the set, several during the stretch when Adairsville cut Ringgold’s lead to 21-20. Josie Summerville chipped in three kills in the third set to help Adairsville stage a comeback with its back against the wall.
McPhee said the strategy was to feed the sophomore middle hitter.
“When Josie is on, if we can get it to her in the right spot, it’s just hard to defend her,” McPhee said of Summerville.
Despite the resiliency displayed by the Lady Tigers, Ringgold would stay ahead of the eight ball with a couple of critical points and take the set in a nailbiter, 25-23.
With the loss, Adairsville finishes the season with a 20-27 record.