By Brian Paglia
The Jonesboro girls volleyball team rolled to another impressive finish at a weekend tournament, and only a highly-ranked opponent could stop the Lady Cardinals.
Jonesboro (35-9, 5-1 in Area 4-AAAA) finished second out of 42 teams in the Conyers Classic tournament this weekend.
It defeated a host of teams - Salem, Houston County, North Atlanta, Chapel Hill, Lee County, Lithia Springs, Union Grove, North Oconee - on its way to the championship match.
It finished first in pool play, qualifying for the Gold Bracket.
Its only blemish at the tournament was a 25-20, 25-20 loss to No. 4 (AAAA) Northgate to decide the champion.
The Lady Cardinals will face Dutchtown and Langston Hughes at Dutchtown today.
Strong showing for Union Grove: The Lady Wolverines volleyball team ran up against the eventual tournament runner-up, but they still had an impressive showing at the Conyers Classic this weekend.
Union Grove (26-12, 8-1 in Area 2-AAAAA) went 6-1 at the tournament, falling to Jonesboro in three games, 25-14, 25-27, 25-12.
Before that, the Lady Wolverines had lost just one game in a 25-21, 25-27, 25-22 victory over Houston County.
Union Grove also defeated Eastside, Lithia Springs, Lee County, Cedar Shoals and Salem.
Ola continues to roll: At one point this season, Ola's volleyball team had a 20-match winning streak without losing a single game. At another point this season, the Lady Mustangs had a 14-match winning streak and lost just one game in that span.
Its latest streak ended this weekend, when Ola (34-3, 6-0 in Area 4-AAAA) lost to Rockdale County in three games.
But the Lady Mustangs also defeated Tucker, Johnson-Gainesville, Habersham Central, Shaw and Johnson-Augusta, as they continue to close in on the school record of 40 wins set in 2007.
Dutchtown looking for cohesion: Dutchtown is the defending Area 4-AAAA champions, but it is still looking for the consistency and cohesiveness that characterized the Lady Bulldogs a year ago.
Dutchtown also participated in the Conyers Classic this weekend, finishing fourth due to a three-game loss to Johns Creek, 13-25, 25-21, 22-25, and another to Northgate.
"I'm trying to get the girls to play as one," Dutchtown coach Angela Williams said, "and when they do that, they can beat anybody."
According to Williams, the Lady Bulldogs have dealt with an influx of new players this season. Throw in four returners, three of whom start, and Dutchtown has spent the season trying to develop the ideal team chemistry on the court.
"We're just inconsistent," Williams said, " but when they to play they can beat anybody. We have a lot of returners that are supposed to be mentoring those young players. Just trying to get to that point."
Dutchtown hosts area foes Langston Hughes and Jonesboro tonight, with the No. 2 seed in the upcoming area tournament at stake between the Lady Bulldogs and Lady Cardinals.
One of new Woodland softball coach Kelli Poff's first acts upon taking the job was to schedule the Lady Wolfpack in the Vikette Invitational Tournament in Valdosta this past weekend.
She knew the tournament would be a good late-season test for her team, one that placed lofty expectations on itself for a third-year program.
After finishing 4-1 at the Vikette Invitational, good for first in Woodland's division, Poff believes going up against that competition should pay off.
"We played some good competition," Poff said, "probably around the same as our region, and some better. I thought they did really well."
The Lady Wolfpack (8-1 in Region 4-AAA) got solid pitching from their senior ace Hannah McBrayer, but Poff dug into her entire inventory of pitchers, she said, and was impressed with Courtney Massengale, Ginny Wall and Caitlin Morgan.
Torrian Wright hit a home run, giving her 10 on the season.
"She's on fire," Poff said.
And with Woodland hosting its region tournament in a week, Poff thinks her team is playing its best at the right time.
"I would say that they're peaking at the right time," she said. "They're working really hard. They really, really want it, which makes a difference. They're not stopping until they get to state."
True Clayton champions: Mundy's Mill already won the Tournament of Champions earlier this season, an event composed primarily of Clayton County teams.
Now, the Lady Tigers can call truely call themselves Clayton County champions after going 3-0 to win the Clayton County Tournament this weekend.
Mundy's Mill (14-4, 5-2 in Region 4-AAAAA) handily beat Forest Park, 23-14, in the championship game Saturday to win the tournament.
Precious Garner went 3-for-4 with four RBIs to lead the Lady Tigers. Layo Ogunnoiki also added two hits.
It was a validating win for the Mundy's Mill program. The win added to the Lady Tigers' record for wins in a season it set this season, breaking the previous record of nine set a year ago.
"This year we've gotten better," Mundy's Mill coach Patrick Smith said. "The majority of our players are freshmen and sophomores, but these kids can play. They've stepped up."
And now, Mundy's Mill finds itself in good position with its Region 4-AAAAA tournament looming on October 6.
Luella's undefeated weekend: The Lady Lions softball team had an undefeated weekend, and made it look easy.
Luella (13-9, 4-2 in Region 2-AAAAA) beat Crawford County, 9-0, and Troup, 8-4, on Friday.
Then, they won 11-1 over Harris County; 5-3 over LaGrange; and 10-4 over Heard County.
Add it up, and the Lady Lions won five in a row, outscoring opponents 43-12.
Ola puts two in a new column: In three years of playing softball at Ola, the Lady Mustangs have tied opponents just three times.
Two happened this weekend.
No. 7 Ola (15-1-2, 6-0 in Region 4-AAAA) had identical scores Friday, ending games in a 2-2 tie Friday against both Jones County and Flowery Branch.
The last time the Lady Mustangs had a tie game was August 21, 2008, against Luella. The teams tied 1-1 in the Dan Wallace Tournament.
Coaches are reminded to call in their scores into the paper the night of their contest. Information should be reported by 10 p.m. to 770 478-5753 Ext. 280.