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Lakeside, Augusta Prep have fast start to volleyball season

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The Lakeside volleyball team is off to a hot start, and confidence is high between the mix of younger players and upperclassmen on the roster.

The Lady Panthers split a pair of matches between Greenbrier and Aquinas on Thursday, giving them a 13-2 record to begin the season.

The combination of junior hitter Holly Sweeting and senior libero Alexis Dunbar has been crucial to the team’s success so far. While Sweeting consistently leads the team in kills each match, Dunbar has stepped up as a vocal leader while leading the team in digs.

“The one thing (Dunbar) has really stepped up with this year is her leadership,” coach Maureen McCormack said. “She’s recognizing a lot about how her leadership, and how she handles the positive things on the floor and the adversity, how it affects the team. She’s just really taken that step as a leader, and I think that’s been a big reason why we’ve been successful this early.”

In the loss to Greenbrier, the Lady Panthers cruised to a first-set win thanks to an error-free game. But Greenbrier stormed back to win the next two sets and the match.

Lakeside was able to put aside the loss and win in two sets against Aquinas later in the day. McCormack said the team’s bounceback win was a confidence-builder.

“We re-grouped and still got the win against Aquinas, and I was very excited about that,” she said. “I was very happy with the team to see them pull together.”

Greenbrier will remain a tough opponent for Lakeside in a strong Region 2-AAAAA. The region also includes Northside-Warner Robins, Warner Robins, Evans and Grovetown.

“By the time the region tournament comes around, it’s all about doing it then,” McCormack said. “This early-season stuff is great to build confidence, but you have to show you can keep doing it all season long.”

CORE RETURNS: After going 18-8 and reaching the GISA Class AAA state semifinals in 2012, Augusta Prep’s volleyball team is returning its core for another run at a state title.

Augusta Prep entered the state tournament as the host with high hopes, and the Lady Cavaliers opened on a positive note with a win in the first round. But they ran into Calvary Christian in the semifinals and lost to the eventual state runner-up. Trinity Christian took home the state championship.

Augusta Prep went 11-3 in region play last season and will look to inflict similar damage in another year under coach Rich Bland. The Lady Cavaliers bring back setter Hannah Masiongale, who led the team in assists as a sophomore in her first varsity season last year. She recorded a game-high three aces and 15 assists in a win over Wardlaw on Aug. 28, giving Augusta Prep an 8-1 record to begin the season.

Masiongale’s main target so far has been Savina Patheja, who had eight kills in the win over Wardlaw. Beka Childs and Margaret Cavanaugh have stepped up as hitters early in the season, while Herrington Murray returns as the team leader in digs.


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