Volleyball rivals face of
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was a profitable day for the Troup High volleyball team.
Troup opened its Area 5-AAAA schedule with home victories over Sandy Creek and the rival LaGrange Lady Grangers on Tuesday.
After beating Sandy Creek in straight sets, Troup turned its attention to LaGrange.
Troup jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set, and that was the story of the match.
Troup (8-8 overall) won the first set 25-9, and it finished things off with a 25-10 victory in the second set.
Troup has played a challenging early-season schedule, and while the results were mixed, senior Anna Murphy said those matches have benefited the players.
“It definitely has helped,” Murphy said. “We were able to get better at working on our defense, and covering, stuff we don’t get when we play lower-level teams.”
Fellow senior Regina Hernandez said playing the tough opponents brings the best out in the players.
“When you’re playing a lower team, it brings you down as well, as much as you don’t want it to,” Hernandez said. “So when you play hard competition, it forces you to bring up your game.”
Murphy and Hernandez, the only two seniors on the team, helped Troup finish second in the area and advance to the second round of the state tournament in 2016.
Last year, Troup was the third seed in the area tournament, but it didn’t qualify for state.
Now, Troup is hoping to duplicate or possibly even surpass the success from a year ago.
“It’s our last year, and we want to make the most of it,” Murphy said. “When we were sophomores, we got to go all the way to the sweet 16 with that group of seniors. We really want to be able to do that our senior year.”
Hernandez said the players put in the work during the summer necessary to achieve success during the season.
“We knew the potential that we had,” Hernandez said. “So, we really worked this summer, and leading up to (the season), we knew what we could do.”
For LaGrange, it was a disappointing start to the area schedule.
LaGrange lost in two straight sets to Sandy Creek before falling to Troup.
LaGrange head coach Angie Newton said we “didn’t play as well as we could have, but we are coming together more each game.”
Hernandez helped get Troup off to a quick start, with back-to-back aces giving the home team a 4-0 lead in the opening set.
LaGrange hung tough and got within one, but Troup scored four straight points to go up 11-6.
A Shanteria Kelly kill got LaGrange within four, but Troup pulled away and built an 18-8 lead.
During a 7-0 run, Amauriya Brown had a kill and a block, Landen Sheets had a kill, and Murphy had a service winner.
After LaGrange got a point on a service error, Troup ran off seven consecutive points to win the set, with Sheets finished the set in style with a kill.
Hernandez was serving at the start of the second set, and she helped Troup built a 9-0 lead.
Hernandez had a handful of aces and service winners to help Troup take command of the set.
Ke’Tara Birt’s block helped LaGrange run off three straight points to get within six, but Troup quickly regained control.
Sheets put a shot away to put Troup up 10-3, and Murphy followed with back-to-back kills to extend the lead to nine.
Troup led by at least nine the rest of the way, and it was Hernandez delivering a service winner for the final point.
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