Lady Patriots fall to Dalton in first match

TYRONE - The Heritage volleyball team needed a few more points to change its fate Thursday in the opening round of the Class AAAA state tournament at Sandy Creek High School.

The Lady Patriots (30-21) were eliminated in their first match, falling to Dalton 25-22, 29-27, 24-26, 25-13.

The turning point in the match was the second game where Heritage couldn't finish off a 22-17 lead and eventually lost 29-27 to fall behind 2-0 in the best-of-five match.

"Losing that game 29-27 hurt. We had a chance (to win it), but we just didn't execute," Heritage coach David Buddenbaum said. "We were up 22-17 at one point in the game and couldn't finish it. You'd think at 22-17, you could finish it off. But that was one of the weaknesses we had all year."

The Lady Catamounts took the early lead by claiming the first game 25-22, as the Lady Patriots got off to slow start.

"I thought we started a little slow," Buddenbaum said. "But that first game was close the whole game. Really all the games were close, except for the last one."

In the third game, the Lady Patriots appeared to be in trouble, trailing 16-10.

But Arabi Umrani ignited a Heritage rally with a block and a kill. In fact, the Lady Patriots took nine of the next 11 points to go in front 19-18 on Jenny Chapman's ace.

Dalton rallied to claim six on the next points, putting Heritage on the brink of elimination at 24-21.

The Lady Patriots staved off four match points before Mikayla Charles' kill tied the match at 25.

Heritage picked up the final two points off the service of Taylor Bailey. Mikala Flonnoy's kill provided the game point.

"I was happy with the way we came back in the third game," Buddenbaum said. "We were down to our last point and fought our way back to win."

In the fourth game, the Lady Patriots ran out of gas. Leading 11-10, Dalton took 14 of the final 17 points to wrap up the victory.

"They (Dalton) played well and they were as good as I expected them to be. We didn't play bad, we just didn't finish," Buddenbaum said. "We didn't do the things that I thought we could do. I thought we played pretty well. I wasn't disappointed with the way we played.

"I told the girls they need to remember this and how it feels. It's exactly how Monroe Area felt last Saturday when we beat them. The key is using this as a learning experience for next year."

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com.