Cartersville volleyball sweeps Rome, McEachern

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Ahead of the Cartersville volleyball team's only matches of the week, head coach Dutch Cothran didn't believe his players looked happy to be at The Storm Center.

Either his players had their poker faces working well or they managed to effortlessly flip a switch, either way Monday showcased just how dominant the Canes can be, as Cartersville soundly swept Class 5A Rome 25-12, 25-17 and Class 7A McEachern 25-11, 25-16.

The impressive performances, which combined to improve the Canes to 6-6 on the year, showed the strides Cothran's group has made in just the first few weeks of the season.

In its season-opening tri-match, Cartersville needed three sets to barely knock off McEachern at North Paulding. Eleven days later, the Canes held the team to 27 total points.

Lauren Wenzell contributed eight kills, nine blocks and three aces, while Anna Grace Brock finished with seven kills, 10 digs and two aces. Mia Nicklas chipped in with three aces. Macey Vaughn tallied 20 assists.

"It was a solid win all the way around," Cothran said. "Our girls responded well to the challenge tonight against McEachern. The last time we played them, we gave up a huge lead and lost a set. Tonight, we were more focused, and we definitely played more like a team.

"Hopefully, we'll build on that as we have the rest of the week off from matches and get some practice time in."

Based off Monday's showings, there won't be as many things to focus on this week. Cartersville's demolition of Rome provided possibly the crispest match to date for the Canes, who are working to replace five starters from last year's Class 4A state semifinalist.

"We've had some rough stretches recently in just about every match, but tonight we were able to avoid that with great ball control," Cothran said. "Our serve receive was much better, and our digs and free ball passes were spot on all night."

Wenzell and Brock almost matched each other perfectly against the Wolves. Both finished with 10 kills and two aces, while Brock edged Wenzell 11-9 in digs. Vaughn added 23 assists.

While she didn't fill up the stat sheet, Cothran made a point to credit Halle Matthews for her role in helping the Canes come together at this early juncture of the season.

"I don't mention Halle Matthews as much as I probably should, but she's been very solid in the middle," he said. "She blocks or touches a lot of balls, and she transitions well and terminates points offensively."

After the extended break, Cartersville and Holy Innocents' will participate in a tri-match next Tuesday at Coosa.