By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director
CENTRE – One of the aspects of volleyball the Cherokee County Lady Warriors focus heavily on is serving.
On Monday against Class 4A, Area 11 rival Etowah, serving loomed large for them.
Behind the serving of sophomore middle blocker Nevaeh Gaidurgis in the second set and freshman outside hitter Ava Haygood in the third, the Lady Warriors scored 31 points in a row, leading to a 25-11, 25-2 and 25-7 sweep.
Cherokee County (22-13) wrapped up area play undefeated at 4-0. They will host the upcoming area tournament and have already qualified for the North Super Regional in Huntsville.
“Thirty-one points in a row, that’s pretty impressive,” Lady Warrior coach Tiffany Rieger said. “We do make errors, but we would rather serve tough. We’re not going to give anybody lollipops. I’m proud of the girls for staying focused and challenging themselves.”
Up 5-2 in the second set, Gaidurgis served the Lady Warriors out, leading to the final 20 points. Haygood picked up where Gaidurgis left off in the third set. She helped put the Lady Warriors in front 11-0.
“Both of them serve jump floats. They’re really hard to pass if you’re not tracking them all the way in,” Rieger said. “Vae’s especially were barely skimming the top of the net. That’s really hard to pass for anybody.”
The Lady Warriors set the tone of the match in the first set, jumping out to a 12-3 advantage and forcing Etowah to take a timeout. The Lady Blue Devils scored back-to-back points to make it a 12-5 game, but they got no closer. Cherokee County closed out the first set on a 13-6 run.
The Lady Warriors held a 5-2 advantage early in the second set before Gaidurgis slammed the door, which carried over with Haygood in the third set.
Gaidurgis led the Lady Warriors with 10 kills, nine aces, eight digs and three assists. Haygood had nine kills, three digs, five aces and an assist. Raegan Garmany accounted for five kills and two digs.
Returning from injury, Vivian Connell collected three kills and two digs. Libby Curry came away with two kills, a dig, an ace and an assist. Lilly Shaw had a kill and a dig. Macy Lea delivered 12 assists, two digs, a kill and an ace. Ellisan Givens contributed with 11 digs and two assists. Emilee Paul posted three digs and two assists. Aubrie Abernathy came away with nine assists and a dig. Leila Connell finished with two aces and a dig.
Givens also surpassed 1,000 digs during the Cherokee County Tournament at Spring Garden on Saturday.
“Ellisan’s athleticism and her knowledge of the game put her in good position to make a lot of great defensive plays,” Rieger said. “She plays with a lot of determination and has high expectations of herself. We rely on her heavily, both defensively and in serve receive.
“Sometimes liberos do not get the type of recognition they deserve, but we try our best to let her know how much we appreciate her. She is definitely a huge part of our team’s success.”
Cherokee County travels to Piedmont on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.