By Rory Sharrock
The colors of the leaves aren't the only changes taking place in the Southern Crescent.
As we dive deeper into the fall season, we are also embarking upon a change in the intensity on the volleyball court as local teams gear up for the playoffs and a run at the state title.
In Clayton County, the sixth-ranked (gasports.com coach's poll) Jonesboro Lady Cardinals continue to fly high above the competition with their nest perched comfortably in first place in Region 4-AAAA
On Tuesday they closed out the regular season with wins over Eagle's Landing (25-13, 25-22) and Northgate (25-18, 20-25, 25-23) to improve to 33-7.
Jonesboro breezed through Region 4-AAAA unblemished to the tune of 9-0, however they struggled at times with consistency.
Throughout the year, the Lady Cards often played to the level of their opponent, coming out with a lot of energy for the state-ranked teams, but fought tooth-and-nail to beat the inferior squads.
Jonesboro, who clinched the top seed in the Region 4-AAAA volleyball tournament, will take on the winner of No. 8 seed Baldwin and No. 9 seed Americus-Sumter on Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.
The Lady Cards feature a talented mixture of veteran players led by junior middle hitter Chanee' Key along with senior outside hitters and team captains Shanice Smith and Jeune Hypolite.
Rounding out the Clayton County portion of the tournament features No. 4 seed Forest Park and No. 5 seed Mt. Zion.
Both schools will lock heads on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Across the line in Henry County, the Dutchtown Lady Bulldogs, who are currently ranked eighth in the polls, enjoyed a superb regular season after going 28-14.
Dutchtown finished 7-1 in Region 4- AAAA, but placed second after Jonesboro.
Following their 25-21, 25-17 loss to the rival Lady Cards on Oct. 11, Dutchtown rattled off eight-straight wins including sweeps over Stockbridge, Luella, Eagle's Landing, Woodland, Ola and Union Grove.
Dutchtown plays as the No. 2 seed and will face the winner of No. 7 seed North Clayton and No. 10 seed Stockbridge on Oct. 18.
The Lady Bulldogs are hoping to return to the Class AAAA Final Four for the second year in a row.
Down at Ola High School, the seventh-ranked Lady Mustangs continue to stampede toward the top in year two of the program.
Ola clinched the Region 4-AAA regular season title after compiling a perfect 8-0 record.
This was the first region title for the school in any sport.
Right underneath Ola in the Region 4-AAA standings is Eagle's Landing High School.
The Lady Golden Eagles currently stand at 7-1 in the region with one final game remaining versus Henry County on Oct. 18 to close out the regular season.
Last, but not least on this list are the Lady Chargers of Eagle's Landing Christian Academy.
ELCA has weathered the storm of its AA/A schedule to rank third at 5-2 in Area 3 AA/A.
During this past season, the Lady Chargers posted a 4-3 record versus local schools including wins over Ola both at home and on the road.