By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
For the second time in three years, Troup High’s volleyball team is a winner in the state playoffs.
Two years ago, Troup beat North Oconee in a five-set thriller before falling to Marist in the second round.
After missing out on state a year ago, Troup returned to the playoffs this season thanks to its third-place showing in the Area 1-AAAA tournament.
Troup headed south to play Thomas County Central in a first-round matchup, and it walked away with a straight-sets win to advance to the round of 16.
After winning the first set 25-18, Troup won the next two sets by an identical 26-24 score to advance.
Troup’s second-round opponent will be Columbus, which beat New Hampstead 3-0 in a first-round match.
Columbus will host Troup, and the match will be contested on Saturday, with the winner advancing to the third round to play either Cedartown or Jefferson.
“The sweet 16 is the farthest we’ve ever made it, so we’re hoping to pull off another win and make it to the elite eight,” said Anna Andrews, Troup’s first-year head coach.
Troup had its hands full with a Thomas County Central team that finished second in Area 4-AAAA to earn home-court advantage at state.
After winning the first set comfortably, the Lady Tigers trailed 23-20 in the second set before rallying for the win, and they won another close one in the third set.
“It was close, but they worked hard tonight, they fought hard,” Andrews said.
Troup won despite playing short-handed, with some players unable to participate in the match because of quarantine procedures.
“We had three players that had to quarantine, and they couldn’t play,” Andrews said. “We only took eight girls tonight. We substituted one girl at a time. Thankfully we were able to pull some JV girls up tonight, and they showed up. We were glad to have them for sure.”
LAGRANGE: LaGrange, which earned a spot in the state playoffs by finishing fourth in Area 1-AAAA, dropped a hard-fought match against Perry.
After the teams split the first two sets, Perry won the fifth-and-deciding set.
Perry advances to play Shaw in the next round.