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Mt. Zion tries to take page from basketball squad

By Doug Gorman

Winning can sometimes be contagious.

Last winter, the Mt. Zion girls' basketball team shocked the state by advancing all the way to the Class AAAA Final Four.

Now, the Mt. Zion girls' volleyball team is trying to steal a page from the basketball team's success manual by going deep into the volleyball state tournament.

It should be an easy sell, as several members of the girls' volleyball team were also on the Final Four basketball team.

However, before the Lady Bulldogs think about the state tournament, something they have already qualified for, the squad has a little bit of work to do at the Area 4-AAAA volleyball tournament.

Tonight beginning at 5 p.m., Mt. Zion will meet No.-1 seed Jonesboro in the Area 5-AAAA on the Lady Cardinals' home floor.

Mt. Zion faces a tough challenge against the Cardinals. Jonesboro comes into the championship game with an undefeated record, and having already defeated Mt. Zion once during the double-elimination tournament.

The Lady Cardinals, the two-time, Clayton County Champions, haven't lost a regular-season match since the 2002 season.

Still, confidence is high for Mt. Zion heading into the match with Jonesboro.

"It's wonderful to know we are going to the state tournament for the first time, but we would love to go into the event as the area champion," said Mikayla Jordan, who was also a member of the team's Final Four basketball team last year. "We established some tradition in basketball, now we want to do the same in volleyball."

Dee Dee Pearce, said she believes the tournament experience from last year's basketball season can benefit the volleyball team too.

"Volleball is a team game too," she said. "Everybody has to be on the same page, and work together."

Mt. Zion girls' basketball coach Doc Gammage took over in midseason last year after Edwin Turnipseed resigned to take a job at the University of Georgia.

Gammage found his troops to be very coachable, and first-year volleyball coach Dunham McAllister says the same thing about Lady Bulldogs when they are on the volleyball floor.

"They are so coachable and that makes my job so much easier," said the first-year head coach.

"These girls understand what it takes to play as a team."

For 10th-grader LaKristie Bussey making it to state as a sophomore is something special.

"This really is exciting," she said. "It gives us something to build on."