From Staff Reports
With a key player sitting on the bench, Southeast Whitfield High School’s volleyball team played one of its most complete games of the season Thursday, beating visiting Gilmer 25-11, 25-17 in the opening round of the Area 7-4A tournament.
The fact that the Lady Bobcats never posed much of a threat has the Lady Raiders thinking big for the rest of the tournament, which will resume — and finish — Saturday at Heritage-Catoosa High School.
Southeast, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, will play at 10:15 a.m. in the winner’s bracket semifinals against LaFayette. A win against the third-seeded Ramblers — a first-round winner over sixth-seeded Dalton on Thursday — will guarantee the Lady Raiders a spot in the Class 4A state tournament.
In the Area 7-4A tournament’s other first-round matches on Thursday, No. 4 seed Northwest Whitfield beat fifth-seeded Ridgeland in three sets and No. 1 Heritage moved past No. 8 Pickens.
Southeast (27-10) played without injured starter Yasmeen Paloblanco, a defensive specialist, in its win over the Lady Bobcats. Paloblanco was kicked in the head during a match last week, and she is to be re-evaluated by a doctor today. Lady Raiders coach Bethany Kenemer didn’t know if Paloblanco would be available for Saturday’s competition.
Senior middle hitter Wendy Perez said the Lady Raiders knew they would have to adjust for Paloblanco’s absence.
“I think part of the reason we looked so sharp today was that we knew with Yasmeen out we had to pick it up,” Perez said.
“I think we are going to keep getting better as we play deeper and deeper into the postseason,” she said. “I think we can have a good tournament this weekend.”
Southeast is shooting for its third straight area title, and the Lady Raiders looked prime for a trip back to the championship against over-matched Gilmer (12-19), leading 24-8 at one point in the first game and taking control of the second game with a 6-0 run to stretch the lead to 13-7. The Lady Bobcats narrowed that gap to three points, but the Lady Raiders again went on another 6-0 run to pull away.
Southeast’s Angie Purkey finished with 20 assists, while Perez had 13 kills to lead the way at the net. Gaby Gonzalez and Serena Ramsey had five and three kills, respectively, while Yolanda Melgarejo finished with four aces. Defensively, Melisa Fraire had 11 digs.
“This is a good starting point for the tournament,” Kenemer said. “We had to change our rotation a little bit, but it was still clicking.”
n Northwest needed three sets to do it, but the Lady Bruins advanced with a 20-25, 25-19, 26-24 win over the Lady Panthers in Tunnel Hill.
Mary Kate Allen led the way with seven kills, four aces and three blocks, Peyton Maret had six kills and three aces, and Whitley Brooker chipped in 12 assists and an ace. Northwest will face Heritage at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday in the winner’s bracket semifinals.
n Dalton lost 25-22, 26-24 at LaFayette and will play Gilmer at 9 a.m. in the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
Alejandra Fraire led the Lady Cats (6-25) with 12 kills, while Ashleigh Peters added four and Macie Noles led the team in assists.
• In the Area 4-3A tournament at North Murray, Coahulla Creek got off to a good start with a 25-22, 25-19 win over Adairsville, while the host Lady Mountaineers also won, beating Ringgold 25-23, 25-20.
Macey Fossett led Coahulla Creek (11-25) with 14 assists, two digs, two kills and an ace, Nikki Ross had eight kills and a pair of blocks, and Gabrielle Henderson added six kills. The Lady Colts, the No. 5 seed in the tournament, lost twice to Adairsville during the season. They advance to face top-seeded Sonoraville — a winner over Cartersville on Thursday — at 10 a.m. Saturday at North Murray, with the winner assured of a spot in the Class 3A state tournament.
Second-seeded North Murray will face third-seeded Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe in the other winners’ bracket semifinal at the same time Saturday. No individual statistics were available from North Murray’s win against Ringgold.
Ringgold beat Fannin County in an elimination contest and will face a winners’ bracket loser at 11 a.m. Cartersville eliminated Adairsville and will play at 11 a.m. as well in the double-elimination event.
• Murray County lost 25-11, 25-15 at Calhoun in the first round of the Area 5-2A tournament. The Lady Indians (3-21) will play in an elimination match at 9 a.m. Saturday, taking on Pepperell at Model.
Heidy Cabral finished with seven assists and Greta Lazzarrotto added two aces for seventh-seeded Murray County against the No. 2 seed Lady Yellow Jackets.
• Christian Heritage lost 25-15, 15-25, 25-19 to Darlington in the Area 4-A tournament at Walker School in Marietta.
The Lady Lions (20-10) will be the No. 4 seed for the Class A state tournament, which begins next Thursday.
Jessica Seehorn had 24 assists, nine digs, five aces and five kills to lead Christian Heritage, while Savannah Roberson added 12 kills and eight digs, and Brenna Mugge finished with 12 digs.
• Ringgold 12, North Murray 3: After playing six games in five days in the Region 5-3A tournament at Hamilton Crossing in Adairsville, the Lady Mountaineers couldn’t overcome one of the best teams in the state in their quest to capture the school’s first softball region title.
However, for a team still trying to reach .500 with its record, North Murray has plenty to be proud of with its run after entering the tournament as the No. 5 seed.
Despite the loss to Ringgold, the Lady Mountaineers will be the region’s No. 2 seed for the Class 3A state tournament and will host the No. 3 seed from Region 7. The first round of the state tournament is scheduled to begin Wednesday with doubleheaders in a best-of-three series. A third game, if necessary, would be played Thursday.
Against Ringgold, North Murray led 3-1 in the middle of the third inning before the Lady Tigers scored five in the bottom half of the inning and then added six more in the sixth to end the game via the mercy rule.
The Lady Mountaineers had just six hits, and Amber Bandy was the lone player with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
“I think most people didn’t think that we would be here, but we kept that motivation throughout the tournament,” said North Murray coach Steve Granger, who is in his first season leading the team. “We might have been physically exhausted after playing seven games in six days, but Ringgold is a great team.”
The Lady Tigers didn’t lose a single game this season against Region 5-3A competition.
• Murray County’s boys cross country team won a six-team meet at Meeks Park in Union County, with the Indians scoring 43 points to finish ahead of Gilmer (46), Lumpkin County (62), Union County (114), Fannin County (136) and Towns County (226).
Servio Martinez took second among individuals to lead the Indians, completing the 5K (3.1-mile) course in 18 minutes and 48 seconds.
Ivan Delgado (seventh, 19:40), Antonio Martinez (ninth, 19:49), Filiberto Nunez (11th, 19:53) and Jose Ruiz (14th, 19:58) also scored for the Indians.
In the girls meet, Murray County finished with 150 points, behind Gilmer (49), Union County (49), Lumpkin County (56) and Towns County (114).
The Lady Indians got scoring runs from Katlyn Richardson (ninth, 24:50), Chloe Brown (24th, 27:07), Nicole Hammett (36th, 29:12), Maddie Phillips (38th, 29:49) and Maria Ruiz (43rd, 32:16).
• Northwest 34, Dalton 8: The Bruins (3-2) got rushing touchdowns from three different players and the defense added one as well in the road win over the Cats.
Will Brock, Alejandro Coronel and Darian Hill all scored on the ground, while Elijah Blackwell added a touchdown pass, Cameron Heard returned an interception for a score and Bryan Villa tacked on four extra points.
In addition, Garrett Ford and Aaron Scott each recovered fumbles for Northwest.
Dalton did not report statistics by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Ridgeland 32, Southeast 30: Jonathon Gowan caught two touchdown passes and recovered a fumble to lead the Raiders in Rossville, but Southeast fell for the first time in four games this season.
Gowan had scoring catches of 15 yards from Colter Faith and 38 yards from Devin Walden. Faith and Walden each added touchdown runs, with Faith scoring from 1 yard out and Walden scoring from 17 yards out.
Ramiro Guerrero kicked a 25-yard field goal and converted three extra points to complete the scoring for Southeast, which scored a touchdown with less than a minute to go but came up short of tying when its run for two points failed.
Tanner Acosta also had a fumble recovery for the Raiders.