PREP VOLLEYBALL: Rome shocks Kell to earn state playoff berth
A single victory gave the Rome High Lady Wolves twice the reason to celebrate Thursday night.
Hosting the Area 7-5A volleyball tournament Rome did what no other area team had done all season by defeating top-seeded Kell and earning a berth in the Class 5A state playoffs in the process.
The fourth-seeded Lady Wolves came from behind to win a three-set thriller against the Lady Longhorns, 17-25, 25-20, 25-20. Kell’s loss was its first against an area opponent, coming in at 8-0 on the season.
“Ecstatic,” Rome head coach Alecia Parker said after the win. “They went out strong and hard. They did not give up. On every single ball they dove. They saw the holes and they went after it. The momentum of taking out the No. 1 team — that’s amazing.”
It was the second win of the day for the Lady Wolves, who started the two-day event with a 25-21, 25-23 win against fifth-seeded East Paulding. Rome, which is guaranteed to finish no lower than third in the area, will face No. 2 seed Carrollton on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Rome High when the tournament starts back up.
Rome senior Caroline Young said the team thrives when faced with high-powered opponents, something it has done on a regular basis as a part of Area 7-5A.
“This is high stakes,” Young said. “We like playing tough teams. Usually we play better when we play tough competition. We have a really tough region.”
Katie Beth Davis had six kills, three aces and 18 digs in the win against Kell. Olivia Vardy finished with four kills, three aces and six digs, Kallan Carper had four kills and four assists, and Carol Saunders had five kills.
Davis had three kills and three assists in the earlier game against East Paulding, while Vardy had seven kills and two aces, Young had 11 assists, and Saunders had five kills.
After dropping the first set against the Lady Longhorns, Rome (29-12) jumped out to a quick lead in the second set to go up 5-1. Kell then went on a 7-0 run to challenge the Lady Wolves, but the hosts found a way to go on a late run to pave the way for the win to tie it up at a set apiece.
Behind early in the final set, Rome had a six-point run to get ahead of Kell and maintained their lead for the remainder of the set, leading by as many as eight points before wrapping up the match.
Tournament play will get underway Saturday with losers’ bracket matches beginning at 9 a.m. The best-of-five area championship match is scheduled to start at noon. Kell will face Hiram with a chance to fight its way out of the losers’ bracket.