By Leila Dycus, Intern
After a week to rest and prepare, the Morgan County High School varsity Spike Dogs headed to regionals to compete for their spot in the state tournament.
On Thursday, Oct. 10, the Spike Dogs took on East Jackson at home before advancing to Saturday’s tournament. MCHS easily beat East Jackson in two sets, allowing them to move on to the regional tournament, held Saturday, Oct. 12, at Oconee County High School.
In order for the Spike Dogs to secure their spot at state, they had to place in the top four in regional competition.
Saturday, they faced Hart County first. In the first set, Hart took the early lead, making it difficult for MCHS to catch up, but big blocks by seniors Olivia Keegan and Mikayla Taylor kept the Spike Dogs on the board. After tying at 17 points, the Spike Dogs were finally able to take the lead. The two teams battled it out, staying tied to 23. A well-placed hit by Paige Hilsman put MCHS in the lead. However, it was Hart who outscored the Bulldogs 26-24 in the first set.
The Morgan County girls knew what was at stake in the second set– win to take it to a third set, or lose and fall to the losers bracket. Although MCHS scored first, Hart was quick to come back and take the lead. Morgan pulled back, bringing the score to a tie at five. The two teams stayed tied before Hart broke away. Then, a tip by Hannah Caison put the score at 21-20. Sadly, Hart took the second set 28-26, sending MCHS to the losers’ bracket.
“They were really close games. Everyone played as a team, but we had some mental moments that we could have done better, but everybody was physically there playing their hardest,” said Paige Hilsman.
Even though they were in the losers’ bracket, the Spike Dogs were not out of the running yet. MCHS went on to take on the Jackson County Panthers. In the first set, the Dogs dominated, giving the Panthers little to no chance at coming back. The set featured tactful spikes by Riley Moss and Mikayla Taylor. The Spike Dogs only allowed the Panthers eight points with a final score of 25-8.
In the second set, Jackson put up a little more of a fight. After one of Olivia Keegan’s signature power shots, the Spike Dogs held the lead by 10 points. Salina and Kayla Fortune and Kourtney Kinchen were put in to play the rest of the game. A tip by Salina Fortune solidified the win for Morgan County 25-10.
Back on the winning track, the Spike Dogs went on the face Oconee County. The MCHS girls needed a win in order to place higher than forth in region. Oconee County was ready to defend their home court and took the early lead. Morgan County was forced to work hard to catch up and they did, tying the Warriors at 15. A big play by Taylor Bruce brought the Spike Dogs’ score to 22, but it was Oconee who won the first set 25-23.
The second set was a last chance for Morgan County. The Bulldogs took the early lead this time. The set kept Morgan County fans on the edge of their seats. The Spike Dogs and Warriors did went back and forth, tying and untying, but Oconee came out of top beating the Dogs 28-26.
“We were hoping that this year we would have made it farther than we ever had. We were really excited about getting here because we’ve beaten the teams before. We were excited that we would have more of a chance this year,” said Hilsman.
As Coach Hooten addressed her team after the match, she told them their season is not over; the Morgan County Spike Dogs placed fourth and secured their spot in the state tournament.
Click here to see more photos from the Spike Dogs’ match-ups.