Wildcats split, Colonels drop pair of 3-setters

When the Woodland volleyball team played at Cass less than two weeks ago, Wildcat senior Noelle Dickey suffered an injury and had to miss the second set of her team’s straight-set loss to the Colonels.

To be clear, her presence wouldn’t have necessarily turned that defeat into a win. Woodland dropped the first set decisively with her, and Cass had won the teams’ two previous meetings in the Bartow County Championships, as well.

But Dickey made the most of the rivals’ fourth matchup of the season, proving to be a difference-maker late in the third set of a 25-18, 19-25, 25-18 home win on Woodland’s senior night. One of two seniors on the Wildcats, along with Emmaline Payne, Dickey had two kills in a four-point span — the second of which gave Woodland a 21-15 lead.

Dickey, who had three kills, four digs and three aces in her well-rounded match, used a couple of her spinning southpaw serves to close out the match and finally allow Woodland to get the better of Cass.

“We felt the first three times we played them, we would play one good set and one bad set or one good set and two bad sets,” Wildcat head coach David Condon said. “We never felt like we put together two good sets when we played them. This time, I feel like we were able to do that, and that’s how we came away with the result.”

Woodland led early in the first set before Cass rallied to tie the score at 9-9. The Wildcats answered with an 11-3 run. After the Colonels had scored four straight points to halve the deficit, the home team finished things out with a kill by Caroline Gore and an ace by Macey Vaughn.

The teams split the first 20 points of the second set. Cass senior Alexis Ware had a pair of kills on either side of a successful spike by Woodland’s Sydney Molinaro. The second kill by Ware spurred a 7-1 burst from the Colonels.

The Wildcats managed to get back within 19-18, but the Colonels rattled off six of the next seven points with a pair of aces by Makina Gorham providing the final two.

“We knew the second set that a lot of it was us — a lot of unforced errors,” Condon said. “They weren’t doing anything different. We were just hurting ourselves. Boom, we corrected that our third set and it made the difference.”

Molinaro and Gore had back-to-back kills to set the tone early in the third set. Cass rallied behind three aces in a four-point span from Harmony Carr. Ware added a pair of aces later in the set, but Woodland countered with two kills from Payne and a couple of aces from Gore, who led the Wildcats with nine kills, four digs and three aces in the match.

Molinaro, who finished with five kills, three blocks and two aces, had an outstanding diving dig that turned into a outstanding diving kill, as the ball looped over the net and landed just inside the line. The moment, which happened with the score tied 14-14, seemed to be the turning point in the pivotal set.

Vaughn, who a stellar match with 17 assists, four digs and two aces, followed with an ace and Molinaro had a block to give Woodland a four-point edge. That’s when Dickey started to take over and send the Wildcats to a much-needed victory.

“It improves our region standing, so we won’t go in at the bottom of the region standings,” Condon said. “… That’s good we won’t be at the bottom of the region, but, at the same time, we’ve got to elevate our level of play when it is region. We don’t do that every time, so that’s something we’re going to address in practice.”

Following the thrilling win over its neighbor and its senior-night festivities, Woodland fell in straight sets to Rome by scores of 25-12 and 25-13. Sophomores Vaughn (seven assists, three digs) and Molinaro (three kills, ace) led the Wildcats in the defeat.

“We’re not getting the consistency we were getting at the beginning of the season from some our young players, our sophomores,” Condon said of his team’s recent struggles. “That comes with immaturity, a lack of confidence and a lack of experience. I’m going to have to have individual discussions with them, saying ‘You can do this.’ … I know them individually, and I know they can be better than that.”

On the other court, Cass nearly recovered from its disappointing loss to Woodland. However, the Colonels faltered down the stretch in another tough three-set defeat — this one to Hiram.

It represented a frustrating night for the Colonels, who could have easily left Woodland’s gym with two key wins.

“We’ve beat them every time we’ve played them this year, but it’s always been close,” Cass head coach Alan Potter said of Woodland. “… I look at that as pretty much a draw. We’re pretty evenly matched and both teams play the same style, so I count that as a kind of a break-even thing.

“Against Hiram, silly mistakes killed us. The first set we lost, there were six balls hit out of bounds and five hit into the net. That’s 11 points we just can’t recover from.”

Despite dropping a hard-fought first set to the Hornets, 25-21, the Colonels bounced back to force a winner-take-all scenario with a 25-20 triumph in the second set.

An ace by Carr helped Cass to an early 4-2 advantage. Hiram responded with a 9-0 run to take control of the set. Consecutive kills by Blaire Waters pulled the Colonels within 16-13, and Ware had a kill later on to trim the Hornets’ lead to 20-17. Riley Nelson’s kill had Cass within 21-19 before Hiram ran off the final four points needed to close out the victory.

The most frustrating thing for Potter was clearly the unforced errors that gifted the Hornets several points and allowed Hiram to hold the momentum for most of the first and third sets.

Even though the self-inflicted mistakes are often the easiest to correct, Potter knows his team doesn’t have a lot of time left in the season to fix the issues.

“Unfortunately, we’re about to run out of time for the self-fixes,” he said. “… Yes, hopefully, those are things we can work on in practice, but there comes a time when it’s too late. There’s a time when saying, ‘Leave it all out on the court,’ doesn’t matter any more, because the season’s over. … We’ll practice everything we saw tonight that we did incorrectly. Hopefully, we can come out on top of the next couple of matches we have.”


Woodland sweeps in Thursday volleyball matches

The Woodland High volleyball team got the better of two teams Thursday, sweeping a tri-match with Rockmart and host Gordon Central.

Woodland beat Rockmart by scores of 25-13 in both sets, and then took down Gordon Central 25-20 and 25-8.

Caroline Gore had seven kills and an ace in the first match, while Macey Vaughn had 10 assists and three aces in the second match. Sydney Molinaro had nine kills and six aces across the two matches.


Wildcats fall to top-ranked Wolves

The Woodland Wildcats had no answers Friday night for the No. 1 ranked Rome Wolves as they suffered a 48-7 Region 7-AAAAA home loss.

“I think our kids came out and showed they had some fight in them,” Woodland head coach Tony Plott said. “They came out and fought and played very hard. We executed real well. Our kids moved the ball great against them and played well on defense at times.

“Rome is very good, and I think our kids knew what to expect from them. There are things they did that we didn’t have an answer for. We’re going to keep working to get better.”

Jamious Griffin led the way for the wolf pack on the ground with three touchdowns. Griffin posted over 100 yards in just the first half of the game, while Knox Kadum completed 9-of-11 passes for 148 yards for the night.

“The defense we were playing against was loaded up to stop the run,” Rome head coach John Reid said. “I thought he (Griffin) did a good job at finding the holes. They played an aggressive man defense.”

Griffin scored his first of three TDs within the first two minutes of action. Woodland quickly responded, stringing together a series of drives that resulted in a 19-yard score by Justice Carter, who finished with 119 yards.

Rome (6-0, 4-0) pounced on the Wildcats shortly after Woodland (4-2, 2-2) scored and never gave the home team a chance to recover. They would go on to score on their next five possessions of the first half, leading 42-7 at the break.

The third quarter started with a running clock and with Woodland handing the ball back to Rome. On third-and-10 Quavantae Holmes intercepted the ball, running it back into Wildcat territory. The following play made for an easy 5-yard touchdown by Xavier Roberts. The following extra point by Alonzo Rodriguez was no good.

Woodlands next possession resulted in them recovering a fumbled punt return. However, after 11 snaps and four first downs, they weren’t able to capitalize, as they turned the ball back over on downs.

“That’s a good team we played, and they have a very tough offense to stop,” Reid said. “Hats off to Tony, he’s done a remarkable job. They’re tough to play against. I think he’s done a fantastic job.”

The Wildcats will host Carrollton (5-1) next Friday at 7:30 p.m.


Woodland’s Bentley throws no-hitter in regular-season finale

Woodland pitcher Madi Bentley was pretty much perfect through four innings in Friday’s road game at Rome. The Wildcats offense made sure she didn’t need to put her no-hitter on the line any longer than necessary in a 13-0, four-inning win.

Woodland won its 14th straight Region 7-AAAAA contest to finish out the regular season as the No. 2 seed, putting the Wildcats (20-6, 14-2) directly into the region championship series.

In Friday’s victory, Bentley struck out eight while allowing no hits and no walks. The only Wolves to reach base came from a hit-by-pitch and an error. Otherwise, Bentley was untouchable.

The offense, meanwhile, scored runs in each inning, although just two of those were earned runs. The Wildcats struck for five runs in the first, four in the second, and two each in the third and fourth.

Ansley Evans (HBP), Morgan Bailey (single) and Morgan Cooper (walk) reached to open the game. Following a flyout, Evans and Bailey scored on an error. Jordan Duck singled home Cooper; Kendyl Hardin scored on Skylar Chappell’s groundout; and Hannah Miller brought home Duck with a single.

The Wildcats were right back at it in the second inning. Evans singled, stole second and third, and scored on an error. Cooper was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on the same error. Another error and a single by Duck loaded and bags before Chappell’s two-run single.

Evans, yet again, led off the third — this time with a triple. Bailey brought her in via a sacrifice fly for a 10-0 advantage. Caroline Higdon reached on one miscue and scored on another.

In the top of the fourth, Miller and Allyssa Motes hit consecutive one-out singles. Following a double-steal, Evans reached on an error that scored Miller. Motes scored the game’s final run on Bailey’s second sac fly.

Bentley worked around a one-out error in the home half to strike out the side and end the contest early.

Hitting leadoff in place of Bella Carnes, Evans went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Duck and Miller each finished 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.

Chappell finished 1-for-3 with three RBIs; Bailey wound up 1-for-2 with a run and two RBIs; and Motes had a hit and a run. Despite not having any hits, the trio of Cooper, Higdon and Hardin each scored twice.

Woodland will head to No. 1 seed Carrollton on Tuesday for the region championship series. Tuesday will feature a doubleheader, starting at 5 p.m. Should the two teams split on Tuesday, then there would be a winner-take-all game at 5 p.m. Wednesday.



Woodland, Cass win at Heritage


Woodland cheerleading honored its five state championship squads during Friday’s home football game against Rome. The Wildcats hope to pick up a sixth title this season, and they are off to a solid start with two wins in as many competitions.

Following a season-opening first-place showing at Pepperell, Woodland took a week off to host its own large-scale competition. This past weekend, the Wildcats were victorious at Heritage with triumphs in the coed divisions for both JV and varsity.

They weren’t the only Bartow County team to take first at Heritage. Cass won the Class 5A division after taking last week off following a second-place finish at Pepperell.

New head coach Chelsi Gibson liked how her team adjusted to difficult circumstances this week, as one of her cheerleaders went down with an injury.

“This week, practices were difficult for the team, because one of the girls got injured,” Gibson said. “We had to rework the routine since she couldn’t compete.”

Even with the adjusted routine and the necessary reshuffling of positions, Gibson felt her team performed well.

“Considering they could only perform about half of their skills, they did very well,” she said. “They were able to hit all stunts — even with other people filling in and taking on different roles.”

Gibson said her injured Colonel should return this coming weekend when Cass heads to Rome.

Meanwhile, Adairsville brought home second in a five-team Class 3A division at a competition over the weekend at Calhoun. It was an impressive showing, especially since the Tigers expanded their repertoire this week.

“They came out very strong on Saturday,” Adairsville coach Kaylie Noe said. “We set our goals to put some more of our advanced stunts in this routine. The girls did a great job. They definitely stepped up their level of difficulty, had better transitions and better energy throughout the routine. We were really, really pleased with them on Saturday.”

Noe said the Tigers entered the competition with a lot more self-belief than the young squad had earlier in the season. She hopes Saturday’s performance continues to build the team’s confidence ahead of its next event Oct. 27 at Dalton.

“We definitely hope the momentum keeps going,” Noe said. “We have a couple of weeks off before we compete again. We anticipate a whole lot of practice, lots of reps, lots of cleaning up and adding in even more skills. My hope is that at the end of these few weeks we have off, when we compete again, we really go out and show Adairsville’s best.”