Ringgold Tigers

You have to go back all the way to 2010 to find the last time a Ringgold High School volleyball team claimed an area championship.

But that all changed on Saturday.

Ringgold, seeded No. 1 after winning all four of its area contests this season, capped an unbeaten area slate by winning twice at North Murray High School to earn the 6-AAA title.

The area championship means that the Lady Tigers will be the area's No. 1 seed and will host in the first round of the state playoffs. Should they win, they would also host in the second round as well.

"We started back in July and our goal the entire time was to host in the first round at state," head coach Ashley Boren said. "But to come into the area (tournament) as the No. 1 seed and finish at No. 1 just feels awesome."

The Lady Tigers opened with a semifinal match against fourth-seeded Murray County and picked up a comfortable 25-13, 25-15 victory. Ricki Lynn Bickley had eight kills, eight digs, three aces and a block in the win. Bethany Thomason added four kills and four aces. Zoie Metcalf racked up 13 assists to go with eight digs, three aces and two kills, while Chloe Hall had five digs and an ace.

Other contributors included Lauren Terrell (3 aces, 3 digs, 2 assists, 1 kill), Emily Ridley (2 digs), Jasley Brooks (1 ace, 1 dig) and Jewel Parham (1 kill).

The win put Ringgold in the finals against second-seeded Coahulla Creek, a straight-sets winner over third-seeded LFO in its semifinal match.

The Blue-and-White started out strong, winning 25-21 and 25-16 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five title match. But the Lady Colts would regroup for a 25-20 win in the third set and they continued their improved play in the fourth set, looking to send the match to a fifth and deciding set.

But Hall found the baseline on a kill to knot the fourth set at 24 and Ringgold arrived at match point on a kill by Bickley. However, Coahulla Creek would answer with a big point to tie things up at 25.

Brooks came through with a kill after a tense rally to earn a second match point at 26-25, but it looked as if the Lady Colts had tied things up once again with another kill. The match official, however, called Coahulla Creek for running into the net, giving Ringgold the final set, 27-25, and the area championship.

"(Coahulla Creek) changed their rotation (after the second set) and moved their tallest girl away from our best blocker," Boren explained. "But I didn't want to change our lineup so we stuck with it and we were able to pull it out."

She added that once her team defeated Murray County to at least secure one home match at state, the only thought was to win it all.

"We really wanted that No. 1 seed and it feels great," she said. "It's my fourth year here at Ringgold and this is the farthest we've gone in the area tournament. Hopefully we still have a few weeks left to play. We at least want to go farther (at state) than last year when we got to the second round."

Bickley paced the Lady Tigers with 13 kills and 31 digs to go with four blocks and two aces. Metcalf had six kills, five aces, 19 digs and 35 assists in the match, while Thomason added six kills, six digs and two aces.

Hall recorded 18 digs to go with four kills, two aces and a block. Brooks had 10 digs, five kills and an ace. Terrell added 16 digs, two assists, two aces and a kill, while Ridley had seven digs and one ace.

Ringgold (23-17) will open the Class AAA state playoffs on Wednesday when Hart County comes to Catoosa County. Should the Lady Tigers win, they would host the winner of the match between Stone Mountain or second-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian.

The Lady Tigers will be on Fall Break both Monday and Tuesday, but Boren said a change in the normal routine would not be an issue.

"We'll still have practice those two days before the match," she added. "It won't be a problem because the first round of state is always on the Wednesday of our Fall Break, so we're used to it. We'll just have light practices and go over the basics, like we did this past week."

Bickley, Hall and Metcalf were also named to the 6-AAA All-Area Team as voted on by the area coaches. Terrell was an honorable mention selection.