High School Volleyball
EC splits against state-ranked teams
by Doug Gorman
East Coweta volleyball coach Amber McClure will never be satisfied with a moral victory, but she watched her team put a scare into Class AAAA No. 1 -ranked Columbus on Thursday at John Thrower Gymnasium.
The Lady Indians, who are ranked sixth in the latest Class AAAAAA Coaches' poll, could have easily pulled off the victory before falling (26-24, 25-22).
It wasn't all bad for the Lady Indians who started the day by beating another state ranked team in a sweep of Starr's Mill (25-16, 25-17).
Starr's Mill came into the match ranked third in Class AAAAA..
'I was really encouraged with our play at the net,' McClure said. 'We had some people reaching and pushing the ball, and jousting, and fighting for stuff at the net, instead of waiting for it to drop and being passive about it. That really encourages me going into some of these matches down the stretch.'
McClure says that aggressive style is a sign that her team won't back down.
'The better and harder we play at the net the further we are going to go, I think,' McClure said.
Against Columbus, East Coweta led in both sets, but couldn't finish off the visiting Blue Devils.
'Every rotation needs to be firing when we are playing teams like this,' McClure said. If we have even a missed serve, and I think we had eight missed serves tonight, there goes that rotation.'
Jessi Bartholomew and Sydney Winters had kills early in the first set of the match and Savannah Freeman had an ace to give the Lady Indians early control.
East Coweta biggest lead of the match came when it took an 11-6 lead.
The momentum didn't hold up long.
After Bartholomew helped push the lead to 18-15, and 20-17, the Lady Blue Devils scored the next four points.
With the 4-0 run, Columbus took a 21-20 lead. It was the first time they had been ahead of the Lady Indians since leading 3-2 early in the set.
The set was tied three times down the stretch, including at 24-all, before Columbus put the match away.
In the final set East Coweta led Columbus by at least three points on three occasions, including a 20-12 advantage. The latter came after Sydney Mauer's deep serves helped give the Lady Indians a 22-20 lead.
But the rest of the match belonged to Columbus.
The Lady Blue Devils scored the last five points in a row to secure the two-set sweep.
Against Starr's Mill, the Lady Indians set the tone early, jumping out to a 5-0 lead behind Freeman's ace and Haylea Mannebach deep serves.
Bartholomew had four kills in the first seven points of the match. Casey Padgett's low-line serves helped the Lady Indians take a 12-5 lead.
East Coweta's largest led of the set grew to 10 on two occasions as it led 16-6 and 19-9.
Starr's Mill got Lady Indians led down to eight, but that was as close as they could get.
The second set against the Lady Panthers was closer for a time, but after the match was tied at 5-5, the Lady Indians took lead for good on the next point.
Bartholomew, Mannebach, and Dominique Ingram contributed with a couple of timely kills. Digs by Mauer and Freeman helped the Lady Indians put the game away.
Although East Coweta came away with the split, McClure is grateful the Lady Indians have played some of the top teams in the state.
'We are playing hard,' McClure said. 'If it wasn't for the tough schedule we have played, I don't think we would be the team we are right now.