Big day for Troup volleyball team

Published 10:53 pm Monday, September 25, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – They’re peaking at the right time.

With the area volleyball tournament on the horizon, the Troup Lady Tigers have found their footing and have come away with some critical wins of late.

Last week, Troup got a big win over Sandy Creek in an area match, and it followed that up by notching a pair of quality victories in a tournament on Saturday.

Then on Monday, Troup was at LaGrange to take on its two county rivals, and it was a winning day.

Troup opened with a hard-fought win over LaGrange before getting a straight-sets victory over Callaway.

In the day’s final match, it was LaGrange beating Callaway in two sets.

Troup is coming off the most successful season in school history that included a breakthrough win at state, but the 2016 team was a senior-dominated one.

Despite the personnel losses, though, Troup has continued to excel, and last week’s win over a Sandy Creek was a big one.

Sandy Creek has been a state powerhouse in recent years, so that was a confidence-booster for Troup.

“As far as the coaches, that was a big deal,” Troup coach Leigh Bailey said. “It showed them we can play with those big girls.”

Troup followed that up by winning two of three matches at a tournament at Starr’s Mill,.

The day’s lone loss for Troup came to Starr’s Mill.

“We beat two teams that are ranked even above Northside (Columbus), Ola and Landmark Christian,” Bailey said. “So we’re on the up-tick. I’m excited about that as a coach.”

On Monday, Troup faced LaGrange, and it was a close one.

Troup won the first set 25-18 before holding on for a 26-24 win in the second set.

Regina Hernandez, one of the few veterans on the team, had a stellar all-around match with 16 digs and six kills.

Kyla Bailey led the team with 16 assists, and Landen Sheets had a team-best seven kills.

Bailey and Grace Ingram had three aces apiece.

Against Callaway, Hernandez started the match with an ace, and Troup won the opening set 25-10.

The second set was a bit tighter, with Troup taking a 25-14 victory.

While LaGrange lost the opening match against Troup, coach Angie Newton was pleased with the effort.

“We played hard in the first game,” Newton said. “They played really good. They played hard, they played strong.”

LaGrange had a great chance to win the second set against Troup and make the match go the distance, but it was Troup hanging on for the close win.

Newton said that’s been a common theme this season, with the Lady Grangers struggling in close matches.

“We just have to be able to finish,” she said. “We’ve had so many games where it’s 24-26, 25-27. We can beat those teams. But we’ve got to finish strong.”

LaGrange bounced back in the day’s final match and beat Callaway in two sets, 25-10 and 25-22.

In the opening set, LaGrange was leading 15-10 when Chloe Beall had a kill to begin a 10-0 run.

Madison Lewis was serving during that stretch, and she had a handful of aces and winners.

In the second set, LaGrange scored the first five points, but Callaway hung tough.

When Callaway’s Alicia Marks had a service winner, the lead was down to 23-22, but LaGrange scored the final two points to secure the win.

Timia Sheppard had a strong effort for Callaway with a handful of kills and blocks, and coach Christina Harris she’s part of a talented group of underclassmen.

“She’s only a junior, so she’ll be back next year,” Harris said. “My up-and-coming juniors, I’m really looking forward to that group, because they’ve been playing together forever. So they’re used to playing together.”

Harris, who is in her first season as head coach, said she has experimented with a lot of lineups this season.

“For me as a first-year coach, that’s just the way it’s going to go,” Harris said. “It’s just a rebuilding process, getting things back together.”