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Volleyball tournament opens today

CONYERS - Forty volleyball teams will converge on Conyers and Stockbridge today for the start of the 2009 AmPest Spike Fest Conyers Classic.

The sixth edition of the tournament opens with pool play today at four different sites - Heritage High School, Salem High School and Davis Middle School in Conyers, as well as Woodland High School in Stockbridge.

"We are excited about hosting this year as we hope teams treat it as a chance to prepare for the state tournament," Heritage coach David Buddenbaum said.

Five local squads will be represented Alcovy, Eastside, Heritage, Rockdale and Salem. Ten of the 11 schools in Area 8-AAAA are in the tournament. The only exception is Madison County.

Three state-ranked teams, including host Heritage, which is ranked No. 9 in the Class AAAA PrepCountry.com Volleyball Coaches Poll, are competing in the event. Also in the tournament are Northgate, which is ranked No. 4 in Class AAAA, and John's Creek, which is ranked No. 7 in Class AAA.

Two other teams of note are Ola, which is 27-2 overall, and Greenbrier, which is 22-2.

"The Conyers Classic is always good preparation for our area tournament that is coming up in a couple weeks. Hopefully, this year will be the year we can make a run in this tournament," Rockdale coach Stephen Sansing said. "Our pool matchups are favorable ones, but we still have to play good and stay positive all weekend. If we do that, we can make the gold bracket for the first time."

Heritage and Alcovy are both playing in Pool A at Heritage High School. They face each other in the opening match today at 5 p.m.

Rockdale is in Pool C at Davis Middle School. The Lady Bulldogs open play today at 5 against Eagle's Landing.

Salem will play on its home court in Pool G and starts the tournament today at 5 against Jonesboro.

Eastside is in Pool H at Salem and opens its tournament against Union Grove today at 5.

Pool play resumes on Saturday at 8 a.m.

The two top teams in each of the eight pools advance to the gold bracket finals, while the third- and fourth-place teams advance to the silver bracket finals. The championship matches of each bracket are set for 8 p.m. Saturday.

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

SideBar: If you go

· What: AmPest Spike Fest Conyers Classic

· Who: 40 volleyball teams, including local squads Alcovy, Eastside, Heritage, Rockdale and Salem

· Where: Heritage High, Salem High and Davis Middle School in Conyers; Woodland High School in Stockbridge

· When: Today and Saturday. Today's matches start at 5 p.m., Saturday's matches start at 8 a.m.