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Rebels head to state tourney as third seed
Cailin Pritchard
Rebels Cailin Pritchard (13) and Chelsea Dennis (16) await a serve in Saturday's match against Statesboro. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

SPRINGFIELD — The Effingham County volleyball team will be spending some time on the road this week as the Class AAAAAA state tournament gets underway with first-round, best-of-5 set matches Wednesday.

The Rebels (21-18) are headed to Atlanta to take on Westlake with the winner getting on a bus to play Pope from Marietta on Saturday.

“It has the potential to be a very long week,” ECHS coach Brittany Lein said.

The Rebels just finished a long week of volleyball, thankfully at home, and won two of three matches — Brunswick (3-0) in the Region 2-AAAAAA buy-in game Thursday and Glynn Academy (3-2) in a region consolation match on Saturday.

But ECHS fell short in its quest for a region championship and a chance to cut down on travel after falling to eventual region champion Statesboro in three sets earlier Saturday.

“Our defense was a little off at the start, but our offense was on and then when we picked it up on defense, the offense wasn’t on,” said Lein about the match with the Blue Devils. “We just couldn’t be on the same page at the same time.”

The Rebels finished the regular season in a tie for second place in the region but lost the tiebreaker — sets won between the tied teams — to both Richmond Hill and Glynn Academy.

That meant ECHS had to play Statesboro, undefeated in region play, in the semifinals. The Rebels lost the first set 25-16, but played much better in the second set before falling 26-24 and then dropped the third set 25-19.

In the consolation match against Glynn Academy, ECHS trailed two sets to one before winning the fourth set 25-18 and taking the tiebreaker 15-10.

“It was really a good day with four good teams,” Lein said. “Statesboro is a fantastic team and I think they’re going to do well at state.”

By finishing third in the region tournament, Lein and the Rebels were matched with Westlake (18-8), a squad that placed second in Region 4.

On Sunday, Lein said she hadn’t looked at tape from Westlake yet, but had seen tape of the Region 4 champion Lakeside-DeKalb, a 33-win team during the regular season.

“(Lakeside) looked like our teams down here,” Lein said. “I feel like when you’re playing teams at state, they’re all on the same playing level.”

Region honors announced

The Region 2-AAAAAA volleyball team was announced Saturday and Effingham County’s Cailin Pritchard, Ansleigh Amory and Ansley Coleman, and South Effingham’s Reese Rexroat and Avery Kilbourne earned first-team honors.

ECHS’ Hayley Sexton, Murphy Boyett and Madeline Neal and SEHS’ Reinjen Talento and Brianna Phillips notched second-team accolades.

Rebels Bentley Braswell and Anaysia Williams and Mustangs Zoe Long and Riley Stringer collected honorable mention.