SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County volleyball team fell out of the Class AAAAAA volleyball playoffs Saturday after a 3-2 loss to Tucker at Sequoyah in Canton.
It was a back-and-forth battle that saw the Lady Rebels’ core of freshmen challenging Tucker’s veteran unit. The Lady Tigers won a 32-30 duel in the opening set and Effingham County bounced back to take consecutive wins (25-20, 25-18). The Lady Rebels dropped the final two sets (25-14, 15-13).
“We fought really hard,” Effingham County head coach Brittany Lein said. “When we were down, we fought to come back into the game. When we were up, we fought to stay up.
“The girls came together and did things we’ve been working on. In our practices, we’ve been working really hard. I told them we needed to peak at the right time and even though we lost, we really peaked when we needed to peak. It was probably one of the best games we had all season.
“It’s not like we came and let them beat us. They played a phenomenal game.”
Lein ramped up play in practice to prepare her team for what she believed would be a battled-tested day.
“We had some intense practices where we were constantly moving and I worked them hard,” Lein said. “We went over stuff that maybe some of them have forgotten about. We broke things down in terms of movement on the court. We did that during hardcore drills. We just worked. They were sweating.
“That was some of the best volleyball I’ve seen them play leading up to the game.”
Cam Allen is the lone senior for the Rebels. Although not a vocal leader, Lein said she contributed in more ways than one.
“This year, more than anything, she was steady for us,” Lein said. “She was that consistent player that really gets along with the girls. She’s kind of a quiet leader. She makes connections with the girls and I think they really took to her because of that.
“In the last month, she has really been consistent. She has had phenomenal practices. She really started too excel in the games.”
During the offseason, Lein and her team won’t rest. Many of the players have already signed up for club ball in anticipation for another competitive Class AAAAAA slate next year.
“We’ve seen what competition is like,” Lein said. “We’ve seen what it’s like to be at the bottom and we’ve seen what it’s like to win some exciting games. Next year, we are going to come back a little bit older and a little bit better.”