Columbus’ match against Chamblee ended as it began, and that was good news for the Lady Blue Devils.
They scored the first seven points of the Class AAAA second-round playoff match and the last 11, leading them to a 3-0 sweep at home on Tuesday. With the win, Columbus advances to the state quarterfinals, where it has played every year since 2004.
“They’ve worked hard,” coach Donna Fleming said after the match. “They’ve trained a lot. These are the fruits of their labor.”
While their labor has come through hard work in practice, the Lady Blue Devils hardly had to labor through Tuesday’s match. They won 25-6, 25-14 and 25-6, trailing only once and stringing together runs of five or more points on five different occasions. They never allowed Chamblee to score more than three consecutive points, and that happened on only two occasions.
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Serving was particularly efficient for Columbus, as it totaled 21 aces as a team.
“Serving was really strong for us,” Fleming said. “It became real dominant.”
Madison Fleming and Nancy Hatcher each totaled two aces serving for the Lady Blue Devils.
They also had plenty of success at the net, led by Brianna Gogins and Shardonee Hayes, who had eight and nine kills, respectively. Madison Fleming notched 22 assists to drive the effort.
Gogins said a lot of the team’s chemistry at the net comes down to who’s in the best shape and who knows each other well. Columbus, which has plenty of experience, has practiced well as a team since the summer.
“We just keep or skills up,” she said. “We’ve been practicing together since June 1, so we know each other well.”
Columbus trailed only once the entire match, 3-2 in the early stages of the final game. It erased that deficit quickly, scoring the next four points, the final 11 points and 23 of the last 26 overall.
In addition to her eight kills, Gogins also notched one ace, one block and two digs. Hayes had two blocks and two digs to go with her nine kills, and Fleming had a block and three digs with her 22 assists and two aces. Also leading the effort were Natalie Twyford (four kills, one block and three digs) and Nancy Hatcher (seven digs, two aces and one kill).
Columbus will await word of its next opponent, which will be decided at a seeding meeting on Wednesday. The final eight teams in the playoffs will be reseeded Nos. 1-8, with the top four teams to host a quarterfinal match on Saturday.
Based on its success this season and in the past, it’s likely Columbus will be among the top teams.
The other teams in the quarterfinals are River Ridge, Marist, Carrollton, Locust Grove, Chestatee, Sandy Creek and Walnut Grove.
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Tuesday at Columbus
Chamblee 6 14 6
Columbus 25 25 25
Team Leaders: Columbus, Brianna Gogins 8 kills, 1 ace, 1 block, 2 digs, Shardonee Hayes 9 kills, 2 blocks, 2 digs, Natalie Twyford 4 kills, 1 block, 3 digs, Nancy Hatcher 7 digs 2 aces, 1 kill, Madison Fleming 22 assists, 2 aces, 1 block, 3 digs. Record: Columbus, 40-14. Next: Saturday, TBD.