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Blue Devil volleyball drops two home matches

     Statesboro fell in both of their volleyball matches Thursday evening, losing to Grovetown 20-25, 17-25 and Effingham County 20-25, 25-21 and 19-25.
    The Blue Devil’s lone victory came in the second game against Effingham. The Rebels were fresh off sweeping Grovetown and looked to similarly take it to Statesboro in the following match. Statesboro only trailed 11-9 early in game one, but Effingham rallied an 11-7 run to extend the lead 22-16. Statesboro fought back with a four point run of their own to cut the deficit to 22-20, but Effingham closed things out with the help of three Statesboro errors.
    “Focus was so much better in the second game,” said head coach Bob Massee. “There was a lot going on before the matches today, so I think we might have been a little distracted early on.”
    Game two saw a much different team from the Blue Devil’s, who after going down 4-1 early fought back to a 6-6 tie on a string of Effingham errors. That’s when Statesboro took off, scoring five straight points off kills by Meredith Carter, Betty Newton and Alecia Ormund. Up 11-6, Statesboro would cool back down to let Effingham back in to tie the game at 13 all.
    Statesboro rifled back -- led by Ormund the Blue Devil’s were able to gain back an 18-13 lead. However Effingham would buck back with a 7-2 run to tie the game at 20 off four Blue Devil errors. Tied up with a rubber game on the line, Statesboro closed out on the shoulders of Carter’s three kills to seal the 25-21 win.
    “I think a couple of rotation changes we made after Grovetown helped us a lot,” Masse said. “Overall the mentality and the energy was right where it needed to be tonight.”
    The rubber game with Effingham started off with Statesboro trailing 6-4, but the win very much within reach. The hope of coming back faded quickly though when the Rebels peeled off a 6-0 run to go up 12-4. The deficit proved to be too much, as the closest Statesboro would get back was being down 24-19 before match point.
    In the first match Statesboro fell behind quickly to Grovetown in the first game 9-3, with the Blue Devil’s awarding the Warriors six points off unforced errors. Statesboro was able to work the score to 10-6, benefiting from three errors from Grovetown. The Blue Devil’s hung in to keep the deficit at five points at 15-10, with Statesboro getting big kills from Cameron Parker, Betty Newton and Maggie Davis.
    “I think there were times when we got a little lazy against Grovetown,” Davis said. “We didn’t play up to our potential like we did with Effingham.”
    Suddenly, Grovetown began to unravel after a stretch of solid play. From the 15-10 mark, the Warriors committed six errors and Statesboro got some big kills from Ormond and Carter. In the blink of an eye, the Blue Devil’s were down 20-19 and within striking distance of stealing a game.
    But Grovetown would tighten up and quickly show why they were a Sweet 16 team in class 6A just a year ago. Three kills and an ace sealed the deal for the Warriors in game one, but it was a moment where Statesboro proved they could compete with a high-caliber team.
    “They had a lot of players we had trouble with,” Ormund said. “They hit over our blocks and forced us to set the ball and side out.”
    Game two wouldn’t be as close for Statesboro. The Blue Devil’s would jump out to a 3-2 lead, but Grovetown followed with a 6-2 run spurred by three Statesboro errors, two blocks and two kills from the Warriors. With the score 9-5 in favor of Grovetown, the Warriors struck another run of 8-4 and extending the score to 17-9.
    From that score on Statesboro wouldn’t back within five points of Grovetown, despite the teams trading points back and forth for the rest of the match. The Blue Devil’s were only outscored 8-7 during the final stretch, but the 17-9 gap was too far to overcome.
    “I don’t think we were aggressive enough with our hitting,” Massee said. “We were constantly in 2-on-1’s in the middle of the net because our blockers weren’t being active enough.”
    Statesboro (2-8) is back in action Tuesday evening when they travel to take on Wayne and Ware County, with the first match to start at 5 p.m.