CONYERS - After being pummeled 25-9 in its first game against Rockdale on Tuesday night at Davis Middle School, the Eastside volleyball squad took care of business, winning the match 25-21 and 26-24.
"We have a tendency to play a bad first game," Eastside coach Angie Lewis said, "and then they just come back and usually play well the next two."
Meanwhile, Heritage cruised in its matches against Morrow (25-7, 25-8) and Salem (25-7, 25-12).
For the Lady Eagles, they improved to 10-10 overall. But after the first game against the Lady Bulldogs (8-8 overall), they were clearly rattled, almost intimidated.
In fact, Eastside trailed throughout the entire first game. The closest the Lady Eagles got was 16-9.
Rockdale's Brianna Dennis and Kelsey Girardot led the way with a combined 11 kills.
"I think that after the first spike by (Girardot) in that first game they were a little bit respectful," Lewis said of her players. "They respected her a lot as far as what she could do with the ball."
During the second game, things took a different turn as Eastside started communicating while Rockdale stopped.
"It tells me that they really have the desire to win," Lewis said. "and that they don't feel defeated when they play a bad game. They come back and do better to better themselves."
After an ace by Naomi Mills gave the Lady Eagles a 1-0 advantage, they never looked back, leading the entire game.
Rockdale rallied to score six straight points toward the end, cutting it to 22-16. And after a kill by Tayla Mitchell, the Lady Bulldogs trimmed it to 24-20.
No matter, the Lady Eagles held on, increasing their confidence level to force a third game.
"I thought we did well on our serves the first game," Lewis said. "We had more service errors in the second and third games. We made less errors in the second and third game than we did the first game. We also had a lot more aces, blocks and kills in the second game, so that was probably what made the difference."
In the third game, Eastside started off strong, building an 8-2 lead. However, Rockdale tied it at 13 after a kill by Girardot. Rockdale then took the lead, 14-13, after an ace by Mitchell.
After several rallies, Mitchell struck again late, this time a kill to tie it at 24. Still, Eastside held on, winning consecutive points to ice the game.
Overall, Mullins led the way with six blocks and four kills. Ashley Aycox had four kills. Wills had a match-high six aces for the Lady Eagles.
Mitchell had eight kills, five blocks and two aces. Brianna Dennis finished with nine kills and one block. Chelsea Nunn had three aces and two blocks.
Eastside lost to Monroe Area in the second match 25-15, 25-21. Wills had seven aces, while Mullins had four blocks.
For the Lady Patriots (8-11 overall, 4-0 in Area 8-AAAA), they had no problems whatsoever during their hosted play date. After handling Morrow with little trouble, they picked up right where they left off against rival Salem.
"Yeah, I think we were pretty efficient with the ball," Heritage coach David Buddenbaum said. "We took care of the ball pretty well, and that's what we're trying to do."
Heritage never trailed in its match against Salem. After jumping to a 10-1 lead in the first game, Jenny Chapman landed three consecutive aces to make it 19-7.
During the second game, it was more or less the same, which involved the Lady Seminoles (0-7, 0-4) not communicating. Back-to-back kills by Mikayla Charles made it 13-6, helping the Lady Patriots pull ahead for good.
Overall, Charles had eight kills. Arabia Umrani added three aces.
Jason Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.