Calhoun wins Rally at the Ridge tournament

Calhoun High School Volleyball teammates pose with their 2021 Rally at the Ridge tournament trophy after taking first place.

The high school volleyball season is starting to wind down. But just at the right time, Calhoun seems to be heating up.

Everywhere around the state, region tournaments will begin in less than three weeks and about a week after that, the state playoffs begin with first-round action.

The Yellow Jackets made it to the 5-A Elite Eight last year and they hope they are now rounding into shape to make another deep playoff run here very soon.

They began this week sitting on top of the 5-A Region 7 standings with a 4-0 record after collecting two big road wins over Hiram and Cass last Thursday.

They followed that excellent showing up with an even better one Saturday at Fannin County High School when they won their first tournament of the season with five victories in six games at the Rally at The Ridge event in Blue Ridge.

Head coach Nic Hann’s team began a very productive 48-hour span last Thursday with a sweep of first Hiram and then the home team Cass to put them in first place with Blessed Trinity, which is 3-0 in the region to start this week. (The Yellow Jackets and the Titans meet on Thursday night at 5:30 at Woodland High School with the winner being the region champion).

They beat Hiram, 25-10, 25-7 in two games and then did the same to Cass to clinch their playoff ticket and move even closer to a possible Regional Banner.

Then on Saturday with the entire team making play after play all day, the Yellow Jackets took six games in a matter of about 10 hours to bring home the Rally at The Ridge tournament trophy.

“These girls battled all day,” Calhoun High School head coach Nic Hann said. “The tournament lasted over 12 hours and they persevered and came out champions. We are finding success as a team. There isn’t any one person that is carrying the team offensively, but we are doing a good job of spreading the ball out and everyone is contributing. That is great to see as a coach.”

Starting the day out with an early morning win over Pickens High School, the Jackets won three of their next four matches and then knocked off Pickens again with a 2-0 conquest of the Dragons in the finals to collect their hardware.

They beat the Dragons, 2-1, but lost to Lake Oconee Academy out of Greensboro in their second match.

But they would not lose again in Blue Ridge, coming back with a 2-0 victory over Hiwasee Dam High School from Murphy, North Carolina. They then beat the hosts Fannin County, 2-1, putting them in the semifinals with a rematch against Lake Oconee.

This time they took a 2-0 win and had the same result in their game against Pickens for the championship. (The victory also made them 3-0 against Pickens this year as the Titans was the first team they played this season back on August 12th).

Pickens played them tough to start the tournament, taking a wild 29-27 win in the first set before Calhoun came back to win 25-18, and then 15-13 in the third and decisive set.

Then they went to 1-1 in the tournament with their loss to Lake Oconee. The Lady Jackets won the first set 25-14 but then found themselves in another crazy battle and lost the second set, 30-28. In the third-set things were tight all the way with no one taking a bigger lead of three points until L0A got the 16-14 victory.

From there, they would lose just one set in their next four games.

Calhoun swept Hiwasee Dam, 25-12, 25-21 to get back on track and move into the championship bracket where they knocked off Fannin County.

The Rebels won a tough first set, 25-20, but Calhoun came back to take the second set by that same score and won the third set, 15-11, to move within two games of the crown.

In the semis, they got payback against Lake Oconee Academy, sweeping them, 25-15, to pull them even closer to the championship.

In the finals, facing a familiar foe, the Yellow Jackets won the first match 25-21 and then the second set 25-17 to set off the celebration.

The numbers from the players for their one day of competition was pretty amazing.

Abi Locklear had 32 kills and Ace Pritchett had 30 while Baylie Burns had 23 on the day. Dora Moore had 17 more kills and Kenadi Morgan had 16.

Freshman setter Kate Watson had 70 assists, 22 digs and 15 aces at Fannin County while Jordan Perkins had 48 assists and 10 digs and junior Lauren Watson had 38 digs and 10 aces. Locklear also had 26 digs while Andrea Anderson had 19 digs and 11 aces.

All the girls served well the entire tournament with Kate Watson producing 15 aces while Locklear had 13 and Andrea Anderson had 11 aces.

They were on the road Monday with a pair of matches against Oakwood Christian and Silverdale as they continue to prepare for the upcoming playoffs and then have their big match with Blessed Trinity on Thursday. The winner of that game will be the number one seed going into the Region 7 tournament next month.

Calhoun and Blessed Trinity were the only two teams in the league still unbeaten going into this week as everyone else in the Region has at last two losses.

Cass is alone in third place with a 2-2 record while Cartersville was in fourth place with a 1-2 mark.

Woodland was in fifth place at 1-3 but still in playoff contention while Hiram stood 1-4.

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