Sitting above .500 more than halfway into the season, the Cedartown volleyball team has plenty of reason to be excited.
The squad has knocked off plenty of talented opponents thus far and sits fifth in the region standings a few weeks prior to the Region 7-4A Volleyball Tournament. But coach John Sheffield is not wanting his players to settle for anything less than their best effort.
“I am really happy with my squad and I’m proud of how they’ve competed in the last couple weeks,” Sheffield said last week. “However, I still know we haven’t fully reached our potential so I’ve been working to get the most out of them.”
The Lady Bulldogs had won eight of their last 13 matches entering Saturday’s At the Rock tournament at Rockmart High School, rattling off six wins in a row from Sept. 3-10 over Cass (2-0), Pepperell twice (2-0 and 3-0), Rockmart (3-0), Model (2-1), and Cass (2-0).
“I felt like the team did a great job that week heading into the tournament at Coosa,” Sheffield said. “I used most of those weekday games to work on communication and trying to create the feel of one unit on the floor as opposed to six individuals playing together.”
On Sept. 12, the Lady Bulldogs competed in the Battle of the Counties tournament at Coosa, where Sheffield’s girls knocked off Model (2-0) and Armuchee (2-1) to land in the winner’s bracket before falling to Rome (2-0).
Once in the loser’s bracket, the Lady Bulldogs defeated the host Lady Eagles 2-0 before falling to Rome once again in the tournament championship, 3-1.
“That outing against Armuchee was the best match I think we played in the tournament,” Sheffield said. “We lost to Rome and could’ve given up, but we battled back and beat Coosa to make it to the championship. Rome’s a great team and they earned the win over us, but I was still extremely proud of our effort.”
Sheffield credited players like Lindsey Lee, Mary Avis Casey, Kimberly Otero and Ansley Dulaney for their efforts at Coosa, stating that they helped lead the charge for CHS.
Cedartown traveled to Northwest Whitfield on Sept. 15 for matches against the Lady Bruins and Pickens. The Lady Bulldogs lost 2-0 to Northwest before losing 2-1 against Pickens.
“That was probably the first time all season I’ve been disappointed in our team, and it was a disappointment from top to bottom. It was coaching and execution,” Sheffield said. “As the coach, you have to get the girls ready for those long bus rides and make sure they start early. That just didn’t happen and we lost to two quality teams.”
Last week’s final weekday matches included a Thursday trip to Rockmart where Cedartown fell 2-0 to Coahulla Creek before beating Rockmart 2-0.
“Even though we lost to Coahulla Creek, I feel like beating the Lady Jackets was a step in the right direction and a good way to end the week. We were able to get some momentum going for us after winning at their place, so I think we are in a good place heading into the tournament,” Sheffield said last Friday.
On Saturday morning, Cedartown made the short drive east for the At the Rock tournament. Sheffield stated beforehand that the Lady Bulldogs were going to use the tournament as an opportunity to get playing time for the entire team to test rotational substitutions in case they are needed later in the season.
The Lady Bulldogs competed well in a brutal bracket but finished last in pool play. Once tournament play started, Cedartown defeated Cass 2-0 before losing to Cartersville 2-0.
Cedartown volleyball hosts Heritage-Catoosa and Southeast Whitfield on Tuesday, Sept. 22 for its Senior Night festivities. Those matches begin around 5 p.m. at Cedartown High School.
“It is definitely going to be a bittersweet moment,” Sheffield said. “I was able to coach our two seniors (Lee and Casey) when they were middle schoolers so it’s going to be cool to coach their last home match at Cedartown.”