Columbus High advances to state volleyball final four

October 27, 2012 

With the Columbus volleyball team a single point away from recording another sweep in the state playoffs, Chandler Barre wanted the ball to come her way.

When it did, she didn't miss.

Barre sent a hard kill into the floor for the exclamation point on another dominating match for the Lady Blue Devils, who defeated visiting Veterans High (25-11, 25-14, 25-19) to advance to the final four for the fifth time in the seven seasons.

It is a welcome return after they missed semifinals last season.

"We're excited," Columbus coach Donna Fleming said. "Last year, we didn't get that far."

The semifinals will be held on Wednesday at Marist School, where the Lady Blue Devils will face the hosts for the right to advance to the finals.

Columbus fell behind early in both the second and third games of the match, but was able to string together a number of rallies to take control of the match.

In the second game, Veterans jumped ahead 4-0, but was unable to string together points again for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, Columbus had rallies of three and four points five times en route to a 19-5 run. In the final game, Columbus went

on rallies of three, four and five points five times.

"Volleyball is a game of momentum, so you do see strings of points like that," Fleming said, adding that the slow starts in both games didn't worry her. "We try to minimize that, but that's not something that concerns us."

Fleming praised her serving and her defense in the match.

"(Veteran's) best player was their middle hitter, and our serving really kept them from being able to execute their middle attack," she said. "Our serving took them out of their system."

Barre, who finished with 14 kills and two aces, noted the defense as well as the team's passing as factors for its strong play.

"We've been really working hard in practice," she said, "and I think it showed in our defense and passing. I think we did really well there."

LeighEllen McCormick said the energy and the communication helped as well.

"We're a very energetic team," said McCormick, who had one ace and three digs. "We need to stay focused and keep our energy up."

Mikayla Swinson said that it was huge for the team to be able to get back into the semifinals after a one-year hiatus.

"It feels good to continue the tradition," she said. "We always want to carry on the legacy of this team."

Swinson finished with seven digs, two aces and two assists.

Other leaders in the match were Brianna Gogins (8 kills, 5 aces, 6 digs) and Madison Fleming (28 assists).

Going forward, players and Fleming agreed that the team needs to focus on continuing to build on what it has already done.

"I don't think we need to change anything," Swinson said. "We just need to build on what we're already doing well."

"We just need to continue to work hard in practice," Barre said. "Monday and Tuesday, we'll be working on our communication."

And staying focused.

"Our goal is always the next match," Fleming said. "We have to win five to win a state championship. We've got three down, and two more to go."

Saturday at Columbus

Veterans 11 14 19

Columbus 25 25 25

Leaders: Columbus-- Chandler Barre 14 kills 2 aces, Brianna Gogins 8 kills, 5 aces, 6 digs, Natalie Twyford 6 kills, Kennedy Smith 4 aces 5 digs, Ki'anna Duncan 12 digs, Madison Fleming 28 assists, 4 digs. Records: Columbus-- 29-25. Next match: Columbus-- Wednesday in semifinals at Marist School.

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