SPRINGFIELD — Effingham County’s volleyball season ended in disappointment at North Atlanta on Saturday. The Lady Rebels had lots of fun getting there, however.
Two days before falling 19-25, 28-30, 26-24 and 20-25 to the Lady Warriors in an empty gym because of COVID-19 concerns, Effingham County eliminated Evans in a thrilling five-set home match that ended with its players screaming and jumping for joy.
“We’ve really been working hard on battling,” said interim head coach Maddie Weiss, who took the Lady Rebels’ reins after Brittany Lein departed late last month to have a baby. “I feel like that was one of our weaknesses, kind of getting down on ourselves, and we really figured it out in practice — how to keep the confidence up.”
The Lady Rebels fought the Lady Knights valiantly. After dropping the first set 25-23, they won the second one 25-18 despite trailing early by nine points.
Effingham County (14-22) had chances to falter in the fourth and fifth sets but managed to hang on to win.
“I harp at them all the time, ‘You have to believe in yourselves.’ I believe in them so hard,” Weiss said. “I get so excited when they win a point.”
Weiss is a Lady Rebel through and through. She graduated from Effingham County in 2017, earning Region 2-AAAAAA player of the year honors as a senior.
The coach’s recent involvement as a player made it hard to contain her emotions.
“I just know if they see me frazzled it’s not going to help them in any shape or form,” Weiss said.
Emotions on the part of players can lead to mistakes and sloppy play, she explained.
Weiss was proud of the Lady Rebels because they avenged a loss to Evans early in the season.
The coach said, “That day we played in Augusta was one of the lower points (of the season) and I think that was kind of where the girls said, ‘OK. We are really going to have to work for it.’ That’s when you could see a determination and they started coming to practice with a different mindset, and they absolutely not going to accept anything than the best of themselves.”
Sophomore middle hitter Cailin Pritchard helped the Lady Rebels hold their own at the net. She had a career-high 20 kills.
Seniors Sara Bevill, Sara Lindsay and Kinley Tucker also turned in solid performances.
“I’m glad the girls showed out today, They fought for it,” Weiss said. “I know it’s special for the seniors (to advance to the Sweet 16).”