Prep Volleyball: East Coweta, Newnan roll in first round

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East Coweta sophomore Jessi Bartholomew spikes the ball for a Lady Indians point against Tri- Cities on Thursday at home during the first round of the Area 3-AAAAAA tournament.

By DOUG GORMAN
dgorman@newnan.com
It looks like the Newnan Lady Cougars and the East Coweta Lady Indians volleyball teams are headed on a collision course to decide the Area 2-AAAAAA volleyball champion.
The county rivals each made it into the winner’s bracket of the double elimination tournament with easy victories Thursday night in the first round of the tournament in matches played at East Coweta’s John Thrower Gym.
East Coweta knocked off Tri-Cities 25-5 and 25-4, while Newnan opened with a 25-5, 25-11 decision over Langston Hughes.
If everything goes as expected, the two locals — who entered as the tournament’s top, two seeds — will face each other twice during Saturday’s final day.
The tournament shifts over to Luella Saturday morning with East Coweta facing Lovejoy and Newnan taking on Luella.
Should East Coweta and Newnan win those matches they would play each other at 11:30 a.m. in the final winners bracket game. The loser would have to work its way back through the bracket in order to set up one more showdown in the championship round at 2:30.

The finals will be a best-of-five match.
(To view Photo Galleries from both matches Thursday, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Volleyball.)

Thursday night, neither team had to break a sweat by using hard serves to create short points.

Against Tri-Cities, the Lady Indians led 21-1 in the first game and 20-3 in the second in a match that lasted less than 25 minutes.

East Coweta prepared for tournament play with a sweep of Douglas County at home on Tuesday, winning 25-9, 25-11, 25-19.

It was the Lady Indians first victory since Sept. 25 while taking on five tough non-region opponents including Landmark, Starr’s Mill and Sandy Creek while looking to return to the Elite 8 for the second consecutive season.

“We are just trying to play together and do what we can to get ready for state,” East Coweta coach Dena Taylor said.

With its first-round victory, the Lady Indians moved to 22-14. Newnan improved its record to 22-15.

The first-round win continues a major turnaround for the Lady Cougars who won just three matches last season.

“We really talked about staying focused and not playing down to their level,” Newnan coach Leslie Fant said. 

Julie Masonheimer was the catalyst for the Lady Cougars during the first round match, helping a majority of the points that didn’t end with bad service returns on the part of Langston Hughes.

East Coweta was paced by the hard serves of Sydney Mauer, Lexy Zelczak and Makayla Aiken.

“We had a lot of different people step up, especially with their serves,” Taylor said.

Should the tournament come down to a match between East Coweta and Newnan, Fant doesn’t mind facing the Lady Indians on a neutral court.

“I think the last three times we have played them, it has been at East Coweta,” she said. “It will good to be somewhere else for a change.”

East Coweta is looking for another impressive run once it gets to state. Last year, it opened the state tournament with upset victories over Woodstock and Parkview.

Both teams were ranked at the time in the Class AAAAA top-10. Newnan made it to the state tournament, but lost to Lassiter in the first round.



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