Oconee Co. ends Volley Dogs’ season

Mary Persons volleyball players, Keajia Campbell (No. 8) and Christa Willingham go up to block a spike attempt by Oconee County’s Rachel Blanton during a state playoff home loss on Thursday. (Photo/Richard Dumas)

After a thrilling run to a second-place finish in Region 2-AAAA, the Mary Persons volleyball team had a much briefer stay in the AAAA state tournament last week.

The Lady Bulldogs were ousted from the state playoffs in straight sets at home on Thursday in a Best-of-5-set, first-round match against Oconee County.

The Lady Dogs lost the first set 16-25 before being handled easily, 9-25 and 10-25, respectively, in the second and third sets.

MP’s only set lead came early in the first set, as the Lady Warriors’ opened the second set with a 4-0 advantage that MP was never able to come back from and then opened the third set with a 7-0 lead that silenced the Lady Dogs’ chances for good.

MP was ultimately overwhelmed by the power spiking ability of a taller Lady Warriors’ team, particularly the front line of Ansley McClain and Rachel Blanton. Oconee County’s Erin Brown fittingly sealed match point with a spike that hit the sideline to close out the win.

MP finished the season with a 10-18 record.

First-year MP head coach Marcy Sanders said she was sad to see the season come to an end but proud of her squad’s accomplishments in 2016.

“It has been a rewarding and memorable experience,” Sanders said. “When my daughter, Summer, played last year for the first time her senior year, I had no idea I would be in the head coach position the following year. As I reflect on our season, I have been blessed in so many areas. Thank you to Coach Nelson for having the confidence in me to coach girls volleyball and for providing me with two of the best assistant coaches one could ask for. Although we had our ups and downs I am pleased with the season. I couldn’t have asked for four better seniors: Olympia High, Keajia Campbell, Carmen Ralls and Rachel Miner. I will miss their leadership, volleyball skills and enthusiasm.”

Sanders said Oconee County was definitely one of the toughest opponents MP faced in 2016, but she did not think her team played its best on Thursday.

“Our girls were timid and did not play to their potential,” Sanders said. “It wasn’t our night and that’s okay. We will look forward to next year. I do not know where God will call me next and if it’s volleyball, then I will be there.”