Ringgold Tigers

After bowing out of the state playoffs early last season as a No. 1 seed, the Ringgold Lady Tigers were bound and determined not to let it happen again.

And thanks to some stellar play by their frontline, they didn't.

Sydney Pittman, Jasley Brooks and Melanie Severns combined for 40 kills as the top-seeded Blue-and-Gold took down fourth-seeded Hart County in four sets to win their Class 3A opening round state playoff match.

Ringgold took the first set, 25-20, after pulling away late. However, the Lady Bulldogs bounced back with a 29-27 victory in the second set to even up the match. The home team picked up a narrow 25-23 win in the third set before sealing the victory with a much more comfortable 25-12 victory in the fourth.

Pittman had a team-high 16 kills and a team-best seven blocks. Brooks picked up 13 kills to go with five digs and two aces, while Severns had 11 kills, five blocks and four aces.

Bethany Thomason chipped in with seven kills, while Region 6-AAA Most Valuable Player Zoie Metcalf had eight kills, six aces and five digs to go with 57 assists.

"It feels great to move on to the second round and I'm especially excited for the seniors," said head coach Ashley Boren, whose team also knocked out Hart County in the first round in 2017. "They still have at least one more practice and one more game playing volleyball for Ringgold."

Ringgold (25-13) will face a huge test in the next round as two-time defending state champion Pace Academy (30-13) will make a return trip to Catoosa County. The Lady Knights coasted to a 25-7, 25-3 and 25-4 win over Kendrick Saturday morning at Ringgold.

Pace Academy was ranked 30th in the country by PrepVolleyball.com to begin the season and they were ranked No. 1 in Class 3A by ScoreAtlanta.com in the latest rankings, despite losing their region championship match to fellow state powerhouse Westminster.

The match will be played at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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