Not a whole lot has changed in a year.
Southeast Whitfield High School’s volleyball team is still racking up wins against Dalton and Northwest Whitfield, and the Lady Raiders once again enter next week’s Area 7-4A tournament riding high.
Southeast swept a pair of matches Tuesday at home, beating Northwest 25-10, 25-21 and topping Dalton 25-21, 25-20. The Lady Bruins beat the Lady Catamounts 25-23, 25-18 in the other match as all three squads finished their area schedules and await other match results from Tuesday to determine seeding for the tournament, which will be held at Heritage-Catoosa.
Southeast (24-10, 5-2) won the Area 7-3A title in 2011 and the Area 7-4A crown last season before making a run to the Class 4A state semifinals, the deepest postseason push ever for any program in Murray or Whitfield counties.
By winning their final two area matches this season, the Lady Raiders assured themselves of at least a No. 3 seed entering the area tournament — losses to Heritage and Ridgeland mean they might not be seeded any better than that — and gave Southeast a boost of confidence as the postseason comes near.
“We have people who are stepping up if someone is struggling,” said Lady Raiders coach Bethany Kenemer, who’s in her first season leading the team. “I told them, ‘Imagine if we’re all playing up at the same time.’”
Dalton (6-24) went 3-4 in area play, while Northwest (20-16) went 4-3. The top four finishers in the area tournament will earn a spot in the Class 4A state tournament.
Southeast led most of the way during its first set versus Dalton and finished it with a kill from Wendy Perez. The second game took a bit longer to complete because Lady Cats coach Joey Wills and some of the players complained about Southeast fans calling out their names and numbers.
“It’s great to have a loud atmosphere, but you can’t call out opposing players by name,” Wills said.
After a meeting with the head official, Kenemer asked the fans to continue cheering without those calls.
“I think they listened to me, because I didn’t hear anything from then on,” Kenemer said.
With the second set tied at 20, Southeast began playing better and scored five straight points. Angie Purkey assisted Serena Ramsey for four kills, including the match winner, and Tania Lopez had an ace during the run.
Playing in loud atmospheres — and playing competitive matches like the ones Tuesday — only will benefit the Lady Raiders, Ramsey said.
“I think the more experience we get playing good teams, the more we’ll grow and get better,” she said.
Purkey finished the night with 38 assists, while Perez had 20 kills and 14 digs. Ramsey added 13 kills, while Yasmeen Paloblanco finished with 17 digs. Melisa Fraire added 16.
Southeast celebrated senior night between matches, honoring Paloblanco, Perez and Ramsey.
Dalton’s Macie Noles led her team in assists, while Ashleigh Peters finished with 13 kills and Alejandra Fraire added eight.
Each time the Lady Cats built momentum against either opponent, they gave a point away with a serve either hitting the net or going out of play. Dalton faulted on 16 serves across the two matches.
“We’ve been serving well and tonight had more missed serves than the last few matches combined,” Wills said.
In the first set of the Dalton-Northwest match, the Lady Bruins broke a 23-23 tie with the final two points. Mary Kate Allen recorded a block to gain the lead, and the Lady Cats followed with an unforced error.
“It always feels good to battle and pull out the win,” Northwest coach Jennifer Quinn said.
In the second set, Northwest jumped to a 9-4 lead, built a 16-9 advantage and withstood a late Dalton charge. Whitley Brooker finished the two matches with 15 assists, Allen added 12 kills and four aces and Peyton Maret had six kills and five aces.
• Christian Heritage closed its league schedule by splitting a pair of Area 4-A matches at Mount Paran Christian in Kennesaw, falling 25-11, 25-19 to the host Lady Eagles but beating North Cobb Christian 25-18, 25-22.
Jessica Seehorn led the Lady Lions (18-9, 3-3) with 28 assists and five aces. Savannah Roberson was the team’s kill leader for the night, with 10, Brenna Mugge had a team-best 10 digs and Caroline Swafford chipped in three kills and a pair of digs.
Christian Heritage will compete in the Area 4-A tournament starting Tuesday at Marietta’s Walker School, but the event’s bracket has not been finalized.
• Coahulla Creek beat host Murray County 25-13, 25-16 but lost 25-17, 26-24 to Ringgold. Murray County lost 25-19, 25-15 to the Lady Tigers in the night’s other match.
Macey Fossett had 21 assists, three aces and two blocks for Coahulla Creek (10-25), while Nikki Ross finished with 11 kills, three aces and two blocks and Gabrielle Henderson tallied eight kills, two digs and a block.
Murray County (3-20) did not have individual statistics available.
• Northwest’s junior varsity team lost 25-12, 25-19 to Southeast and 25-19, 26-24 to Dalton.
Holly Heath finished with 11 kills and four aces for the Lady Bruins (14-10), while Tori Ingram added five assists and Taylor Smith had three aces.
• Northwest claimed a pair of top-eight finishes in boys and girls competition in the fourth meet of the Chattanooga Cross Country League season, with the Bruins taking fourth and the Lady Bruins eighth at Camp Bluff in Dayton, Tenn.
The boys scored 185 points as they finished behind a trio of Tennessee schools — Chattanooga’s Baylor (39), Cumberland County (119) and Soddy-Daisy (182) — in the 31-team field.
Leading the way for the Bruins was Henson Gibbs, who took 14th with a time of 17 minutes, 52 seconds on the 5K (3.1-mile) course. Also scoring for Northwest’s boys were Lane Bramblett (19th, 18:18), Dylan Richards (38th, 18:53), Kyle Roberts (50th, 19:14) and Brandon Bolino (64th, 19:26).
Northwest’s girls took eighth among more than 20 teams, scoring 237 points. Tennessee’s Signal Mountain won the girls meet with 44 points, ahead of Heritage-Catoosa (69) and Baylor (75).
Nancy Paz led the Lady Bruins in 23:09 for 34th place, while also scoring were Jen Riviera (37th, 23:29), Caroline Duffy (48th, 24:04), Ashley Sweeney (55th, 24:35) and Leah Frye (63rd, 25:15).
Northwest won’t return to action until Oct. 17, when it will compete in the Front Runner Championships at Baylor.
“I don’t feel like we’ve peaked yet,” Northwest coach Tom Sell said. “We’ve not run as well as we’ve hoped, but we’re about to take a little time off for fall break next week and we’ll get fresh legs. We’re just tired. I kind of expected that.”
• Coahulla Creek’s boys and Dalton’s girls had the best finishes among teams from Whitfield County at the Cartersville/ Cass Invitational, with the Colts taking third among 16 teams and the Lady Cats taking sixth among 13 teams. Alpharetta’s girls and Pickens’ boys won the titles.
Dalton’s girls were led by Ashley Parham (34th, 23:30), with the Lady Cats also getting points from Beronica Hernandez (35th, 23:31), Bitia Paz (44th, 23:58), Fabiola Torres (45th, 24:01) and Monica Vega (50th, 24:16).
Dalton’s boys finished fifth, with scoring runs from Brandon Pineda (19th, 18:19), Jay Tripp (27th, 18:33), Jose Boyzo (35th, 18:49), Saul Izaguirre (36th, 18:50) and Sergio Aguirre (40th, 18:51).
It was a solid day for Dalton, coach Karen Galyon said.
“We’re getting better, we’re cutting time and I think a lot of them did very well time-wise,” she said. “We’re young and still building. This was a good meet for a lot of them.”
Southeast’s boys were 11th, while the Lady Raiders were 13th.
Isabel Salinas finished 18th overall with a time of 22 minutes, 5 seconds to lead the Lady Raiders, who also received counting times from Ana Padilla (23:33), Jessica Flores (25:27), Jennifer Conteras (28:01) and Sandy Torres (30:27).
Luis Perez finished 30th overall with a time of 18:37 for Southeast, which also received scoring times from Daniel Triana (19:22), Omar Ruiz (19:24), Juan Ruiz (19:34) and Cristian Gonzalez (19:49).
Southeast only knew the place finish for Perez and Salinas.
Coahulla Creek’s girls finished 12th.
No individual results for Coahulla Creek were available by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Cartersville 1, Coahulla Creek 0: Madeleine Kalafut’s single was the only thing that kept the visiting Lady Colts (19-7, 9-4 Region 5-3A), who struck out nine times, from going hitless as Erin Harden took a tough-luck loss in the pitching circle.
Harden threw a complete game, allowing four hits and three walks while striking out seven. Cartersville’s lone run was unearned.
In the sixth, the Lady Purple Hurricanes’ leadoff batter singled before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt and third on a groundout. She scored on an infield error.
“It was a good ballgame,” Coahulla Creek coach Josh Swiney said. “Both pitchers threw great.”
Cartersville swept the season’s Region 5-3A home-and-home series with the nailbiter. Coahulla Creek’s other two region losses this season came to Ringgold.
The Lady Colts close their region and regular-season schedules Thursday at Gordon Central, but Swiney said he believes Coahulla Creek is locked into the No. 3 seed for the region tournament, which starts Saturday at Hamilton Crossing in Adairsville.