Troup, Callaway volleyball teams face off
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They’re hoping it’s all coming together at the right time.
The Troup Lady Tigers, with the area volleyball tournament coming up in two weeks, traveled to Callaway High and came away with a straight-sets victory on Tuesday.
After winning the first set 25-19, Troup closed things out with a 25-14 win in the second set.
Troup has a handful of matches remaining before it heads to Fayette County High for the area tournament, with the top-four finishers qualifying for state.
Troup is third in the area at the moment, but head coach Anna Andrews believes her players have what it takes to finish first or second at the area tournament.
“We’re third in the region, but I think we can move up,” Andrews said. “It comes down to that one day, and the way the wind blows as we drive down to Fayette County.”
Central-Carroll and Fayette County own the top-two spots in the area, and Andrews is confident her players can compete with those teams.
“They’re teams that are beatable, we just have to be in it,” Andrews said. “Sometimes you show up, and sometimes you don’t.”
Andrews is relying on a handful of seniors to lead the way, including Landen Sheets, who has been a critical part of the program since she was a freshman.
Sheets believes the team has improved over the course of the season in part because the players have grown closer.
“We’re a really young team,” Sheets said. “We had a bunch of seniors last year. I feel that as we’ve grown closer, we’re playing together more.
“At first we were a bunch of strangers, but now we’re best friends. Having that bond really helps us play better.”
The other seniors for Troup are Victoria Finley, Macy Jeter, Savannah Coker and Amauriya Brown, and Sheets said all of the upperclassmen “have really tried to get us together.
“I’ve been playing since my freshman year, and I know what it’s like to be the young kid that’s new to varsity and kind of feel left it,” Sheets said. “We’ve been trying to push and be friends. If we see the younger ones in the hallway, we say hey to them.”
Callaway, like Troup, is hoping to be at its best when its area tournament comes around.
Callaway made a late push to make the first set competitive against Troup, and it fell behind big in the second set and was unable to recover.
“I really think I have something special here if it all comes together,” said Callaway head coach Leigh Bailey. “It helps when we play teams like that. They’re not going to give you anything.”
This is the second time Callaway and Troup have played this season, and Bailey has enjoyed seeing her former players.
Bailey was the head coach at Troup during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and she was an assistant coach under Jodi Dowden before that.
“Some of them I actually coached for six years,” Bailey said. “I’ve been with all of them for a while, and Anna and Chad Noles, they were my coaching staff.”
Callaway’s best stretch in Tuesday’s match came in the first set.
After Troup built a 20-8 lead, Callaway ran off six consecutive points, with Tiffany Bledsoe delivering a pair of aces during the run and freshman Haley Blair coming through with a kill.
Berkley Noles had a pair of kills to help stabilize things for Troup, which built a 23-16 lead, but Callaway hung tough.
Back-to-back service winners by Callaway’s Amoria McFarlin cut the deficit to 23-19, but Troup won the next two points to secure the set.
Troup started quickly in the second set, with back-to-back kills by Brown and Finley giving the visiting team a 2-0 lead.
Bledsoe got Callaway on the board with a kill, but Troup ran off the next four points, with Sheets’ service winner extending the lead to 6-1.
Blair’s kill gave Callaway another point, but Troup went on a 6-1 run to go ahead 12-3.
During that stretch, Savannah Coker had a block, Noles had a pair of kills, and Brown had a service winner.
After falling behind by nine points, Callaway got within five before a Finley kill got Troup rolling again.
The Tigers continued to pull away, and they captured the second set 25-14 to secure the road win.
Andrews was happy with what she saw during the match, particularly the way the players took control.
“We’ve gotten much closer,” Andrews said. “We’ve tried to put a lot into that, making sure that they come together and talk to each other before I have a chance to say something. One time tonight, they missed a ball, and they said you don’t have to say anything. We know what we did, and they moved on. That was good to see that they’re adapting to the game.”
Troup has a handful of matches remaining before it participates in the area tournament on Oct. 13.
“We’re hoping to show up and show out at area,” Sheets said. “We’re going in really confident.”