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Dogs volleyball nabs first state berth
Forsyth Central's Tanya Rusev hammers the ball across the net during a recent practice. The Lady Bulldogs secured a spot in the state tournament with a victory over Tucker in the Area 6-AAAA tournament at Marist. - photo by Jared Putnam
Even Forsyth Central's coach wasn't sure about his team's chances Saturday.

With his team facing Tucker for the fifth time this season, and a state tournament berth hinging on the outcome, The Lady Bulldogs' chances of playing on looked slim.

After all, the Tigers had beaten Central in each of the previous four meetings, including that very morning in the first round of the Area 6-AAAA tournament at Marist.

With 10 seniors to Central's three and plenty of height on the other side of the net, the challenge presented was a big one.

Yet with the season on the line, Central came together and won the match in three games, with a narrow 25-22 win in the final game.

"Odds were pretty much against us on that one, and fortunately we were able to pull it off," Central coach Chuck Adams said of his team's upset victory during practice Monday.

With that win, the Lady Bulldogs became the first volleyball team in school history to qualify for state.

After a loss to Tucker in the first match of the day, Central had to bounce back with wins over Stone Mountain and Southwest DeKalb simply to be in position to qualify for the state tournament.

"It was really an all around effort for the most part. Everybody came together in those matches," Adams said.

"If they're all in line and all working and all doing what they're supposed to be doing, then it all comes through well."

Senior Paige Campbell said spirits are high for the Lady Dawgs this week.

"It's so exciting, because we're the first [Central] volleyball team to make it to state," said Campbell, who said she cried after Friday's practice, not knowing if the team would get another chance to practice together.

"This year is so much better than last year. At the end of last year, I was ready for the season to be over," said Campbell, who plays outside hitter.

Senior Tanya Rusev is finishing her third year on the Bulldog varsity. She missed most of last year with a broken thumb, but said the experience of making state has made up for that disappointment.

She described the win over a physically superior Tucker team as being "like a movie."

"Coming in this season, I was hoping for this year to be worth it, and it was. It was just a present. When it was over [and we had won], I was begging for practice on Monday. It felt good," Rusev, the team's libero, said.

Adams said it was gratifying to see his girls put together the winning effort.

"They were awesome. They're the ones that actually put it together because they finally got on the court and decided how bad they wanted this match. They wanted to go to the playoffs," the coach said.

Central was set to finalize its seeding spot for the state sectionals Tuesday at Marist. The Lady Dawgs compete in the sectionals at McIntosh High in Peachtree City on Oct. 23.