All five Forsyth County volleyball teams are set to face off in the Area 5-7A tournament Wednesday and Friday at South Forsyth High School.
Lambert, South Forsyth and North Forsyth all enter the tournament with state playoff potential, while Forsyth Central, West Forsyth and Milton are looking to play spoiler.
This will be the first region tournament for Drew and Kelly Cecil, who are hoping North can sneak in as a wildcard to win the whole thing. The two got a good preview of where their team is by winning both matches in a recent area showcase at Milton that included all of the county teams.
Drew Cecil hopes the fans from Coal Mountain will bring the noise.
“We’re enjoying one of the best seasons, if not the very best season in school history,” Cecil said. “We are in a good position to clinch our first state playoff appearance since 2002, however Kelly and I are far from satisfied. We firmly believe the talent and skill set is here to be even better, and that we have let several games get away from us this season that we probably should have won.
“All we want to do in the region tournament is play the best volleyball we can play and have a strong, resilient mindset in times of adversity. If we do that, we feel we’ve got a good shot to qualify for the state playoffs and maybe play for an area championship.”
The challenge for the Lady Raiders comes from the fact their two losses this season in region play were 2-0 defeats to Lambert and South, which have both been ranked by numerous publications in the Top 10 of Class 7A throughout the season.
South enters the week with a perfect 5-0 mark in area play, and that includes not having dropped a single set. That number has great implications and is in stark contrast to the team’s overall set record, where the Lady War Eagles dropped 21 more sets than Lambert and North, which each dropped 25 on the season. That number is a product of a tough schedule for the team that advanced all the way to the Class 6A state championship last season.
The Lady War Eagles are coming in hot, and hopefully healthy enough to peak in the postseason again, especially if star middle hitter Shea McNamara can return.
“We’ve overcome challenges. It’s definitely been a season of injuries for us.” South head coach Kelly Wren said. “We definitely expected a stronger start to our season and when we struggled a bit in the beginning. We had to work harder, and we’ve done that. This senior group is one of the best I’ve ever coached.”
Lambert enters with a 4-1 mark against area opponents with just two sets dropped, and also has just 10 losses on the year—the least amount in the county (North has 12, South has 18).
The Lady Longhorns fell to South in a heated competition during the night cap of the showcase at Milton though proved their worth at the same time. Lambert has been a team on the rise this season and hopes to confirm that starting on Wednesday.
“The girls have worked extremely hard to prepare for this part of the season,” Lambert head coach Missy Hall said. “I’m very proud of the way they have been able to celebrate victories as a team as well as bounce back from disappointments with determination. It’s going to be fun to watch them give everything they’ve got this week.”
Players to Watch
MH Maddie Bryant, North Forsyth: Bryant has 256 kills, a .271 hitting percentage, 165 digs and 50 blocks in her junior season.
OH Bri Gilbert, North Forsyth: Gilbert has 250 kills, a .212 hitting percentage, 202 digs and 44 aces in her senior season.
L Jordyn Moellering, Lambert: Moellering has 243 digs, 12.1 per match, and 1,747 for her career. This is her senior season.
RS Kendal Barrett, Lambert: Barrett leads the team with 490 assists, 6.3 per set, and has 52 aces. She has over 2,000 career assists. This is her senior season.
OH Amanda Nugent, South Forsyth: Nugent has 451 kills, a .246 hitting percentage in her senior season.
L Erin Yeatman, South Forsyth: Yeatman has 528 digs, breaking 2,000 for her career in her last match in her senior season.
DS Savian Jordan, South Forsyth: Jordan has 333 digs in her junior season.
OH Chloe Lance, West Forsyth: Lance has 279 kills and a .208 hitting percentage in her senior season.
OH Emma Gore, Forsyth Central: Gore has a .310 hitting percentage in her senior season.