However, Cartersville, Cass and Woodland provided an early-season preview Thursday at Woodland High as the Lady Canes prevailed against both Cass and Woodland.
“I love it whenever we do this,” Woodland head coach David Condon said of the all-Bartow tournament. “We started doing this like three or four years ago, round robin, everyone hosts it. It’s just fun. It’s fun to just do this every year, because the girls all know each other, the coaches all know each other, we all like each other, so it’s a lot of fun to come and play.”
Woodland defeated Cass in the first match of the day in two games, 25-21 and 25-10.
Cartersville then defeated Cass in two games by scores of 25-9 and 25-5.
Still, Cass head coach Alicen Webster was pleased with her young team’s play Thursday.
“They played really well against Woodland. I was very satisfied with that. Cartersville, I think we’re just not at the same level at this moment because we do have a lot of girls who haven’t played before, and last year we graduated six seniors. So we’re very young,” she said. “They’re getting better each time, so that’s really good. That’s what we’re looking for. Today, I can say I’m going to go home happy because both games were good.”
The final match of the event was the closest as Cartersville and Woodland split the first two games. Cartersville won the first, 25-15, and Woodland took the second, 25-21. The Lady Canes were then able to pull away in the deciding third game, 15-7.
The two teams were tied, 4-4, at one point before Cartersville ran off six straight points with senior Kaylee Shelton at the service line.
“They’re just a better serving team than we are, overall, and that gave us challenges here and there,” Condon said of the match. “I’m not really concerned because we’re going to get better. We have a freshman and they picked on our freshman in our defense, and they should, but she’s going to get better. They served better than we did, but I’m still very, very, very pleased with our effort today.”
“We do have some big servers, and this year, we’ve really been working on making jump serves mandatory. We want to serve aggressively,” Cartersville head coach Camille Spradley said. “Kaylee Shelton did really well. She got a lot of serves in against Cass. Kate Justus did really well in both matches. I think she only had one service error, and then Asia [Murray], she’s our big top spin jump server. That always helps because it’s just a different trajectory than what they’re used to.”
Murray also had 10 kills in the match against Woodland, five in the third game, to go along with one solo block, two block assists and two service aces.
“Asia really stepped up. She’s one of our captains this year. She’s taking that role very seriously and she’s doing a great job with that,” Spradley said. “She’s really big and aggressive at the net. She’s loves to block. That’s probably her favorite thing in the world, and second is probably attacking, but she really likes to play at the net. Of course, her vertical is out the roof.”
Woodland had its best game during the second set, where Woodland maintained between a four- and seven-point advantage throughout.
“The bottom line is, if you want to win, you have to get possession. We were getting possessions in the second set, our first passes were way better and we attacked them. It’s really that simple,” Condon said. “In the first set, we didn’t attack them at all because our first passes in our possession weren’t good. Second set, our passes were much better. Therefore, our possessions were better. We were attacking them and things happened.”
“In the second game, that’s what really killed us, our serve-receive,” Spradley said. “We made a couple of service errors, which is never good, especially in their home gym. They started being more aggressive and we didn’t adjust to them hitting later in their possessions. In the third set, we started to be aggressive with our serve-receive. We started putting the ball down and that stopped their attacks a little bit.”
For Woodland, junior middle hitter Taryn Quackenbush had four blocks in the match while Mary Katherine Grimes had seven kills.
For Cartersville, senior Ashlyn Warner also had seven kills, while freshman Catie Heilman had five.
“Ashlyn used to go to Woodland, so she has a personal vendetta against them. She wants to make sure she’s killing them when she does it. She was like, ‘Girls, we absolutely cannot lose to them.’ She was putting balls down today,” Spradley said of Warner. “Catie Heilman, she’s a freshman and she’s our lefty, so we really like her. She plays a lot of club ball. It’s something that she loves. She’s a great, great player.”
Woodland now moves to 5-5 on the season, Cass goes to 0-6 and Cartersville improves to 4-7.