LAGRANGE, Ga. -- The No. 10 Shaw High volleyball team started fast in both games of its match against area foe Columbus on Tuesday in a tri-match at Troup High.
It was the No. 4-ranked Lady Blue Devils, however, who finished.
Despite trailing 4-0 and 7-0 in the two games, respectively, Columbus (15-15, 2-0) was able to battle back, going on extended rallies and limiting Shaw's remaining opportunities to win the match 2-0 (25-21, 25-19).
Columbus won its second match of the day to make it four straight wins overall and two straight to open area play.
"We play a real hard schedule," Columbus coach Donna Fleming said. "When we're down, we've learned to mentally stay in it and fight back. We have to fight for every point, and they have confidence that they can do that."
While Shaw (18-7, 2-2), which topped Troup in its first match of the day (25-12, 25-18) was able to show flashes of brilliance to match that of Columbus, stringing together three rallies of four or more points, the Lady Blue Devils displayed calm and resolve to battle back.
Down 7-0 to begin the second game, Columbus began chipping away. They scored two straight, then five, two again, then three and four, all while limiting Shaw to just five additional points.
After the final four-point rally, the Lady Blue Devils had taken a 16-12 lead that Shaw could not recover from.
"We've got to get better at stopping rallies," Shaw coach Lindsay Dunton said. "I keep telling them, I want it to be two (points) and done."
After the opening seven-point rally in the second game, Shaw was unable to string together more than two points at a time.
With the exception of a late six-point rally, it was the same story in the first game.
Columbus trailed 4-0 to begin the game, but strung together rallies of three, six and four points to jump out to a 13-8 lead. Another four-point rally later made it 20-12, and, despite scoring six in a row to cut the Columbus lead to two, Shaw was unable to recover.
With the score 20-18, Columbus' Brianna Gogins was set up for a big kill to end the Shaw run. She finished with nine kills overall. Shaw held serve just one point later, but the broken rally was too much to recover from.
"That was a very talented team," Dunton said. "When you play very talented teams and you're up, you have to stay up. You can't let them take over and have to come back, because it takes too much out of you."
The win set up Columbus nicely to begin area play. Fleming said it was important to start out well and it will continue to be a grind in a tough area going forward.
For Shaw, the match against Columbus was the second time in two weeks it had played well against a top-tier opponent, but came up short. It lost in three games to area opponent and Class AAAA state No. 1 Sandy Creek last Tuesday.
And while it does show plenty of promise for a team looking to make a deep run in the state playoffs, Dunton said her girls are tired of getting close.
"They're tired of playing close," she said. "They were upset about the loss. I told them in the locker room that getting close is over and done with. We have to start beating these teams."
Lindsey Thomas and Bailey Couty led the way for Shaw in the two matches, notching a total of 10 kills and six aces, respectively. Thomas also added nine digs and Couty had 24 assists.
Columbus was led by seniors Chandler Barre, LeighEllen McCormick and Mikayla Swinson. Barre had 15 kills, McCormkick had 10 aces and 10 digs, and Swinson had five digs. Setter Madison Fleming added 26 assists and six kills.
Shaw hosts Northside and Brookstone in a tri-match on Thursday. Columbus travels on Friday and Saturday to Hoover High (Ala.) for a tournament.