The Ridgeland Lady Panthers, short-handed with two starters out, still managed to qualify for the Class AAAA state volleyball playoffs over the weekend as the No. 4 seed from Area 7.

Seeded third going into the area tournament, Ridgeland opened this past Thursday with a 25-20, 25-15 victory over sixth-seeded Southeast Whitfield in a game played at Northwest Whitfield. However, the second-seeded Lady Bruins would pick up the win over Ridgeland later that night, 25-14, 25-9.

On Saturday, at Pickens High School, the Lady Panthers punched their ticket to the state playoffs with a 25-16, 25-15 win over the host school. However, they would have to settle for the No. 4 seed after dropping a 25-16, 25-20 decision to Cedartown in the third-place match.

Natalee McClain took up the offensive slack with 30 kills in the tournament. She also added 18 digs and finished with five aces. Justice Devlin, forced into playing more in a setter’s roll, had 30 assists to go with nine kills, seven digs and three aces. Bailey Fowler finished with 25 assists, 14 kills, 9 aces, six digs and a block, and Brylee Durham recorded 33 digs and one ace.

Bryanna Galindo had 10 digs and two aces. Koda O’Dell finished with nine kills and one dig. Ivey Stargel had five aces, two blocks and a dig. Meagan Cordova chipped in with a pair of blocks and Brylee Benson had one dig.

Ridgeland (20-9) will open the state tournament on the road in Atlanta against Area 6 champion Marist on Wednesday of this week. The match is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m.

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