Cartersville won the first and third matches, 25-21 and 25-20 respectively while the Lady Tigers claimed two contests, 25-13 and 25-21, and then the rubber match, 17-15, of the Georgia High School Association Class AAA state volleyball tournament.
The playoff was held as the Cartersville High Storm Center and pitted two programs that made the Elite Eight in the sport a year ago.
“We had a good service game,” head coach Camille Spradley said. “That’s where we got the majority of our points. Where we didn’t execute was in our passing game and running our offense. I think if we’d just executed our offense a little more and just put the ball away. We were a little bit too conservative, but our girls played hard all five games.”
Jessica Boss, captain, and Janeska Cruz, co-captain, led the Lady Purple Hurricanes against Ringgold. Cruz was credited with nine aces, 17 service points, 32 attacks and 10 kills. Boss scored two aces, eight service points, 24 attacks and 14 kills.
Cartersville took the first match of the evening, jumping out to 4-0 lead partly on the strength of two kills by Katie O’Connor. Ringgold answered and slowly narrowed the score until the two were knotted 12-all and then 13-all. Cartersville slipped into the lead, at 14-13, after a Lady Tiger made a return that went long and the home team slowly stretched its lead until O’Connor blocked a Ringgold shot to claim a 23-18 lead.
The Lady Canes scored their final match on a Ringgold serve that dipped into the net.
Ringgold came roaring back in the second match, jumping out to a 9-0 lead before Cartersville scored. The Lady Tigers kept control the rest of the way, their lead fluctuating between eight and 12 points, as they claimed an easy 25-13 victory.
Cartersville opened the third match with a streak of its own, claiming an early 5-0 differential. Ringgold came back to tie, however, at 11-all and the two were tied at 12-all, 13-all, before the Lady Canes earned a 25-20 win with a kill by Stefanie Will.
It was Ringgold’s turn to start with a streak in the fourth match, as the Lady Tigers scored seven points before Cartersville broke onto the scoreboard.
The Lady Hurricanes whittled away at the visitors’ lead much of the rest of the way, and the two teams knotted the match at 18-all and at 20-all. Ringgold finished with the lead, at 25-21, to give both squads two wins.
The Lady Tigers narrowly won the final match, which was tied six times, when a Ringgold drive landed just inside the court, giving them a 17-15 victory.
“We’re disappointed because we were definitely hoping to make a return to the Elite Eight again this year, but our girls were definitely proud to be here,” Spradley said.
She said the Lady Canes put a lot of effort into their sport during the season and earned their way into the playoffs.
“They worked hard all season long and coach [Melissa] Moore and I definitely were blessed to have such a good team to work with,” Spradley said.
She said Ringgold proved especially resilient at Wednesday’s matches.
“They’re a good team. They had a lot of good rallies,” she said.
Others helping the Lady Hurricanes’ cause were Melissa Bartlett, four service points, one attack; O’Connor, five service points, 18 attacks, 13 kills; Will, four aces, 18 points, 18 attacks, four kills; and Kiley Perkins, four service points, four attacks.