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Volleyball play date should put region rankings in focus
Bella Scroggs
Effingham County libero Bella Scroggs gets ready to put a serve in play against Islands High on Aug. 29. The Rebels won 3-0 (28-26, 25-22, 25-17) to extend their winning streak to three. (Donald Heath/for the Effingham Herald.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

South Effingham and Effingham County volleyball teams always want to be playing at their best. The next few days would really be a good time for that to happen.

On Saturday, the Region 2-6A play date will be hosted by Effingham County and all seven region teams, including the Mustangs and Rebels, will be in action with all the matches counting in the region standings.

Since teams only play each other once in region play, Saturday's games will go a long way in determining seedings for the region tournament which will be held about four weeks later.

ECHS, SEHS, Glynn Academy and Brunswick will play each of the Augusta schools – Lakeside, Evans and Grovetown.

"(The play date) will tell us where we stand," Mustangs coach Heywood Ellison said. "Are you at the top of the region or the bottom? You could be feeling pretty good about yourself or you could be thinking you need to go back to the drawing board."

Effingham County works as a central location for a region that spreads out more than 200 miles between Brunswick and Augusta.

The play date helps cut down on travel expenses and lost school hours for a region that spans more than 200 miles, but it puts regular-season region competition in a one-day pressure cooker.

"We need to have a seriousness about (the play date), but ultimately the (region tournament) in October matters," ECHS coach Brittany Lein said. "We want to come in with a decent record, we want to come in with a decent (seeding), but we want to be peaking for the region."

Four days after the play date, on Sept. 13, South Effingham will be hosting a three-team round robin with ECHS and Brunswick. All three of those matches will count in region play.

And then the Mustangs and Rebels are done with regular-season region play.

Lein knows from experience that a lot can happen in the four weeks between your last region match and the region tournament.

A year ago, Lakeside left the play date undefeated in the region and entered the region tournament as a No. 1 seed. ECHS finished the regular season as a No. 2 seed. Glynn Academy was reeling as a No. 5 seed in the seven-team region.

But Glynn got on a roll, eventually beating Lakeside and Lein's Rebels en route to the tournament finals.

ECHS came out of the losers' bracket to beat Lakeside and, in another twist, won the rematch with Glynn in the finals.

It was an exhausting, nine-hour day, but a fruitful one for the Rebels who captured their first region championship since 2016.

Previously undefeated Lakeside ended up as a No. 3 seed in the state tournament.

Lakeside (17-0) should enter this year's play date as a big favorite to sweep its four matches. Glynn Academy is 12-1 with hard-fought 2-1 region wins over Effingham County and South Effingham in Springfield on Aug. 22.

But ECHS (5-4) and South (4-8) have played strong schedules to prepare for the potential grind ahead.

"We feel like we can win the region," Ellison said. "We'd like to win all three (in the play date) to put ourselves in position before playing Brunswick and Effingham on our court. Next week will be the most important week for us."

At least until the region tournament in October.


Heywood Ellison
South Effingham volleyball coach Heywood Ellison talks to middle hitter Clara Vorel during a recent match with Effingham County. All seven Region 2-6A schools will be in action Sept. 9 for matches that will go a long way to determining seeding for the region tournament in October. (Donald Heath/for the Effingham Herald.)