The Cass volleyball team fought an uphill battle all evening due to slow starts in its first Area 7-AAAAA quad-match of the season. Unsurprisingly, in a sport where a quick burst can completely change the complexion of a first-to-25 set, those rough beginnings led to a pair of sweeps at the hands of East Paulding and Kell.
The Raiders opened up a 5-1 lead in the first set and a 9-0 advantage in the second. Cass never really got its feet under it in the opening set, falling 25-13, but the Colonels split the final 32 points of the second in a 25-16 defeat.
Against Kell, Cass found itself behind from the opening point again. The Longhorns led 6-0 in the first set in the blink of an eye, but the Colonels fought back to take the lead late before falling 25-22. Kell opened up a 13-1 cushion in the second set to ease to a 25-13 win.
"That seems to be a recurring factor for us this year," Cass coach Alan Potter said of the slow starts. "Our problem is we lost seven seniors last year. Not to make any excuses, that was a big bite of our settledness, so it takes us a while to get that self confidence going. If we could just come out and play at the beginning of the match, ... we would be in a better position. But we're behind the eight-ball constantly. It makes it hard to come back, especially against a quality team like Kell or Rome or East Paulding, who were all here tonight."
Against East Paulding, Cass had a chance to keep the first set tight. A kill from Alexis Ware, who posted nine kills, two aces, two digs and a block, pulled the Colonels within 7-5, but the Raiders pulled away with multiple 4-0 runs.
It took a kill from Blaire Waters, who finished the night with five kills, two digs, an ace and an assist, on the 10th point of the subsequent set to get Cass on the board. Even though they played the Raiders even the rest of the way, the Colonels never got closer than eight points.
"We don't quite have our rotations down on certain rotations, on certain plays by the other team," Potter said. "That's a mental thing. You're physically in position, you look great, but you're not thinking about the physical process of the game. You're not in the game; you're just playing the game. We have to bridge that gap."
Despite falling behind early against Kell, Cass showed the fight that was missing against East Paulding. The Colonels used a 5-0 run complete with two kills from Ware, a block from Ware and an ace by Waters to even the score at 9-9.
Keegan Krause had one of her five kills to tie the game at 21-21 to force a timeout from the Longhorns. Cass scored the ensuing point, but Kell rattled off the next four to win the crucial set.
"I point to leadership," Potter said of what cost the Colonels down the stretch. "We talked about it during the little break that we had between the two matches about picking up the energy — win, lose or draw, whatever. Have a little bit of fun, pick up the energy and encourage each other. ... It just nosedived after that [timeout]. I can make excuses all day long, but we just didn't play up to our potential and that's been a problem all year long."
Cartersville sweeps area opener
After a brutal pre-area schedule that saw the Cartersville High volleyball team go 6-9, Area 5-AAAA began Tuesday.
While the area schedule is more important because it determines playoff seeding, it also should be an opportunity for the Lady Canes to boost their overall record and gain some positive momentum for the playoffs.
That's exactly what happened Tuesday at Cedartown, as the Canes cruised to straight-set wins over area foes Central-Carroll (25-18, 25-14) and Cedartown (25-20, 25-8).
Nedu Evans had 16 kills, six digs and three aces against Central, while Rebekah Stevens added five kills, Grace Hunter had 27 assists and five kills and Anna Grace Brock and Anna Mathis had eight digs apiece.
"We were coming off a lengthy break without practice. I felt like we were flat early, but I wasn’t very surprised by it with the lack of practice. We caught a little momentum and made a good run to finish off the first set," Cartersville coach Dutch Cothran said. "The second set, we controlled the ball better, and it produced better results. We had a few times in serve-receive where we had some communication errors, which shouldn’t be happening at this point. We’ll work on that."
The first set also was the more difficult set against Cedartown, but the Lady Canes won it before going on to easily win the second set.
Evans had 22 kills and three more aces; Hunter had 32 assists and five aces; and Stevens had six kills and seven aces.
"It was a very wild and rowdy atmosphere since the match was at Cedartown. They had a large crowd behind us, and they were quite vociferous. Our girls and I were rather inspired by the constant voice behind our servers," Cothran said. "The first set, we battled through it. The second set, Nedu took over at the net, and Bekah Stevens took over behind the service line, and we finished it off very quickly. It was nice to see our girls respond in a hostile environment."
Cartersville is now 8-9 overall and 2-0 in the area. The Lady Canes will travel Thursday to North Paulding to play the host team and North Cobb Christian.
Wildcats split area opener
The Woodland High volleyball team had a solid performance in the non-area schedule, but now is when the real fun starts.
The Lady Wildcats got the more important area season underway Tuesday by splitting a doubleheader against Paulding County and Villa Rica.
Woodland beat Paulding by scores of 25-16 and 25-13. Macey Vaughn had 13 assists, two kills, two digs and one ace in the first match of the day; Caroline Gore had six kills, two digs and an ace; Emmaline Payne had three kills, seven digs and an ace; and Noelle Dickey had three kills, two digs and four aces.
The second match didn't go as well, with Woodland taking Villa Rica deep into the first set before losing a close one 30-28, and then falling in the second set by a score of 25-12.
"We lost focus the second set and didn't handle the pressure of a tight match with a good opponent very well," Woodland head coach David Condon said.
In that match against Villa Rica, Vaughn had 10 assists and seven digs; Dickey had four kills and four digs; Gore had four kills and four digs; and Sydney Molinaro had two kills and three blocks.
Woodland is now 9-9 on the season and will step out of area play Thursday for home matches against Cherokee and Sprayberry before the Bartow County Championships Saturday.
Adairsville drops pair of matches
The Adairsville High volleyball team keeps competing — sometimes showing positive signs of improvement, just not wins.
That was the case in two non-area matches Tuesday.
The Lady Tigers lost by scores of 25-10 and 25-17 against Coosa and 25-13, 25-21 to LaFayette.
"I can see improvements in skill and decision making," Adairsville coach Kaylie Vaughn Martin said. "We just need to stay out of our heads and maintain positive attitudes."
The still-winless Tigers return to the court Thursday for matches with Sonoraville and Fannin County at Sonoraville.