By R. Alan Richardson
Morgan County moved into the Sweet Sixteen of the Volleyball State Playoffs with an easy three-of-five sets win over Haralson County 25-12, 25-16, and 25-12. Area 5-AAA only has four teams that compete in volleyball this year, so Haralson pretty much made the tournament by default with a 2-16 overall record while going 1-5 in Area play. They were no match for the 8-AAA winners of Morgan County who play in a highly competitive Region.
As expected the Lady Dogs ran out to a 14-2 lead in set one and coasted in from there. Set two was a little closer in the early going. With the score tied at 7-all, Bailey Shultz got a back line spike that then sparked an eight-point service run by Brooke Butler to give MOCO a comfortable 16-7 advantage. The Lady Rebels got as close as six at 19-13 before the Dogs put them out of their misery with points by McKenzie Larate, Butler, and Emma Silvey at the net and Anna Cox on the final serve.
Set three wasn’t much of a contest either. MOCO bolted out to a 4-0 start on Sam Crowley’s serve and then pushed it to a 12-3 lead on the play of Nijah Young, Anna Cox, Crowley, and Butler. Coach Olivia Daniell substituted freely throughout the three sets giving her substitutes plenty of playing time and much-needed experience. The final three points of the match were scored with Gracie Christian showing off her strong serve to end the match 25-12.
When it comes to appreciating the finer points of the game, setters and liberos sometimes go under the radar. Anna Cox (setter) and Bailey Shultz (libero) have been vital to the success of this year’s squad. The pinpoint passing of Cox is fun to watch. She told us, “We get a chance to play East Hall this week (Tuesday, Oct 23 at 6:00 after our deadline). I thought today against Haralson we were very productive and played strong together. We communicated, passed, and set very well. We now get a chance to play for the Elite Eight.”
Another unsung hero for the Dogs has been Gracie Christian. Her service game is one of her strengths. The tenth grader said, “I love serving and have worked at it a lot. When you practice every day and get it right, it’s fun getting points for your team.”
Coach Olivia Daniel noted, “We got a chance to play all our younger players in this one. They are improving. Overall, we got a chance to run our quick offense and sets. It’s been two weeks since we’ve seen another team. It was good to get on the court and get the feel back. The girls have been sick of practicing with no games during that stretch. We did what we had to do to advance. This time of year, there’s not much more teaching you can do. They know what to do by now. It was also nice to get a preview of the team we’ll play this week in East Hall.” East Hall defeated Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe in the other match of the day.
Morgan now sports a 23-9 record with East Hall on the horizon as the only barrier between the Lady Dogs and the Elite Eight. The Lady Vikings will come to Madison posting a 36-15 record and a 7-3 record in Area 7-AAA to finish third behind North Hall and Dawson County
This game was played Tuesday after our deadline and will be reported on next week. We wish the team well.