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Undefeated Lady Cards win area title

By Anthony Rhoads

35-0.

That's how the Jonesboro Lady Cardinals will enter the Class AAAAA state sectionals this Saturday in Savannah.

The Lady Cardinals will be going to their second straight trip to state after beating Morrow in the Area 2-AAAAA finals at Jonesboro High School.

Jonesboro beat Morrow three games to one (25-18, 25-27, 25-18, 25-5) in the finals. Morrow will also be advancing as the top two teams from each region go to state.

"I think it's good for Jonesboro High School," Jonesboro head coach Dan Maehlman said. "Last year, we put all the sports at Jonesboro on the map. We're elevating all the athletic programs here and these girls are really going after it. It's an accomplishment to go 35-0 and winning the area championship, that's great."

Jonesboro, like the other Clayton County schools, started its volleyball program in 2000. Since then, the Lady Cardinals have accomplished quite a bit. They've won two area championships, two Clayton County titles and last year, they went to the state sectionals for the first time.

"I can't wait to get to Savannah," junior LaTreace Johnson said. "Teamwork has been the key this year. Every time we're down, we pull together. I think we went scared to state last year but this year we should be better prepared for it."

Senior Monica Gennadopolous is the only player who has been on the team since its inaugural season in 2000.

"I think it's really great," she said. "We're playing more as a team. I think it's awesome that we're undefeated and won the area championship."

Sophomore Jasmine Duffey is confident the team can do well at state.

"I'm glad we were able to win the area," she said. "I think we're going to take it (the state championship)."

Duffey, a 6-foot 5 center on the basketball team, is playing volleyball for the first time this year. In Monday's championship match, she had several key kills and blocks.

"I still like basketball more but volleyball is definitely coming up," she said.

Jonesboro advanced to the finals by beating Coffee County, Henry County and Morrow on Saturday.

Morrow beat Houston County and Eagle's Landing before losing to Jonesboro on Saturday. After Saturday's loss to Jonesboro, the Lady Mustangs went into the losers' bracket and beat Henry County to advance to the finals.

Morrow is 23-7 after dropping Monday's championship match. Jonesboro and Morrow also met in the Clayton County championship match earlier in the season with Jonesboro coming out on top.

"I think we were very competitive in the first and second game but three and four, we fell apart," Morrow head coach Yolanda Jenkins said. "I was pleased with the way we played this weekend. It was probably the best volleyball we've played all year."

Morrow returns to the state sectionals for the first time since 2001.

"It's going to be a challenge for us," Jenkins said.