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Lady Patriots finish 3rd in tournament
4 local volleyball squads advance out of pool play

CONYERS - The Heritage volleyball team tuned up for the final week of the regular season with an impressive showing over the weekend in the AmPest Spike Fest.

The Lady Patriots (31-8) chalked up a third-place finish in the gold division bracket of the tournament, posting an 8-1 record in the two-day event.

In fact, it was a good weekend for the local squads in the tournament, as Rockdale, Eastside and Alcovy all advanced out of pool play.

Heritage won its pool with a perfect 5-0 record, defeating Alcovy (25-12, 25-15), Archer (25-3, 25-23), Jackson County (25-20, 25-20), Dalton (23-25, 25-14, 25-15) and Luella (25-3, 25-12).

In the gold bracket, the Lady Patriots beat Lovejoy 25-6, 25-12 before taking out Greenbrier 25-12, 21-25, 25-21. But in the semifinals, Heritage fell to eventual champion Northgate 25-20, 25-21. However, the Lady Patriots bounced back to win the consolation match over North Oconee 25-21, 25-12.

"I'm very happy with the way we played," Heritage coach David Buddenbaum said. "I thought teamwide we did a great job with enthusiasm, hustle, cooperation. As a team, we went 8-1, which is a great weekend. We served very well."

Taylor Bailey paced the Lady Patriots with 58 kills and 12 blocks, while Mikayla Charles added 41 kills. Arabia Unrami had an excellent all-around tournament with a team-high 71 points and 22 aces to go along with 31 kills and 10 blocks.

Mikala Flonnoy recorded a team-high 84 assists and chipped in 52 points and 20 aces. Rachel Jubran finished with 80 assists, 37 points and 14 aces.

Rockdale (23-14) also earned a trip to the gold bracket by finishing second in its pool with a 4-1 mark. The Lady Bulldogs beat Eagle's Landing (25-14, 27-25), Walnut Grove (25-14, 25-8), A.R. Johnson and Gainesville Johnson. They lost to North Oconee (25-20, 20-25, 25-18).

In the gold bracket, Rockdale upended Ola 25-23, 16-25, 25-15 before falling to North Oconee in the quarterfinals 25-19, 25-19.

"We played well, especially in the match against Ola. Our team put together a great effort to beat Ola," Sansing said. "Against North Oconee, we kind of ran out of gas a little bit. But it was good for us to see that kind of competition as we get ready for the region tournament."

Eastside (16-22) earned a trip to the silver bracket with a 2-3 record in its pool play. The Lady Eagles defeated Cedar Shoals (25-14, 25-15) and Stockbridge and lost to Union Grove (25-17, 25-16), Lithia Springs (25-20, 25-21) and Chapel Hill.

In the silver bracket, Eastside opened with a 25-21, 25-20 victory over North Atlanta before falling to Cedar Shoals 25-20, 25-18

"It was a long day and our players got tired. I could tell the fatigue was getting to them because we started missing serves and hits we don't normally miss," Eastside coach Angie Lewis said "They played very well throughout the tournament. I was proud of their performance. We played some good teams and held our own against them."

Katie Johnson had 51 kills for the Lady Eagles, while Tiffany Lo chalked up 74 assists.

Alcovy also advanced to the sliver bracket with a 2-3 mark in pool play. After falling to Heritage in their opening match, the Lady Tigers (15-15) beat Jackson County (25-17, 25-10) and Archer (25-16, 26-24) before falling to Dalton (25-17, 25-21) and Winder-Barrow (25-23, 25-18).

In the silver bracket, Fayette County eliminated Alcovy in the round of 16 with a 25-19, 26-24 decision.

"We played well on Friday night and early on Saturday," Alcovy coach Amanda Briggs said. "Later on Saturday, we started making a lot of unforced errors and cost ourselves at least two matches."

Salem was the only local squad to not qualify for pool play. The Lady Seminoles lost to Jonesboro, North Atlanta, Houston County and Chapel Hill.

Buddenbaum thanked American Pest Control for their support of the tournament, as well as Heritage volleyball booster club for all of its work and Salem, Heritage, Davis Middle School and Woodland for the use of their facilities.

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