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Volleyball teams ready to hit the road for playoffs
Flowery Branch, North Hall opening postseason far from home
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One has a five-hour trip the other has a three-hour trip, but both have the same goal.

The Flowery Branch and North Hall volleyball teams will travel to Richmond Hill and Milledgeville respectively, for the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs, and both are hoping to make the trip back as winners.

“We’re treating this like any other match,” North Hall coach Emi Hughes said. “We’ll be a little away from home, but we’re preparing the same way we would if we were playing at home.

“The bottom line is that we are excited to live to have another week to play and I, personally, like our chances.”

The Trojans (27-14-2), the No. 3 seed out of Area 7-AAA, will face the No. 2 seed out of Area 3-AAA in the Baldwin Braves (12-10).

Hughes believes that the top-notch competition the Trojans faced in the region tournament, especially Flowery Branch, Creekview and region champion West Forsyth, went a long way towards preparing her girls for what’s coming this weekend.

“We feel good,” Hughes said. “When you can play and beat a good team like Flowery Branch and then play well against Creekview and West Forsyth — two teams I think are right up there with the best in the state — it gives you confidence.

“We know that if we can play well that first match and then keep it going, we’ll have a good chance.”

Hughes also added that, whether good or bad, her Trojans often play to the talent level of their opponents.

“That’s sort of a catch-22,” she said. “But I believe my girls will rise to the occasion this time.

“I think the girls are confident.”

For Flowery Branch, Saturday’s first round match with Area 3-AAA champion Richmond Hill is all about proving something.

“(The girls) really want to make up for the fourth-place finish in our area,” Flowery Branch coach Bryan Mavis said. “They are ready for the match on Saturday.”

Since finishing fourth in last weekend’s Area 7-AAA Tournament, the Falcons have had, what their coach refers to as, “numerous setbacks” during this week’s preparations.

“One of my seniors, who was out last week, is still out with the flu,” Mavis said, “and we have a couple of cases of bronchitis that don’t seem to want to go away.”

Mavis is encouraged by one thing though, the drive of the girls that were able to practice this week.

“The girls that have been there have been there to work and get ready for this weekend,” he said.

In other state volleyball action this weekend, Area 8-AA/A’s No. 3 seed Jefferson travels to Area 4-AA/A No. 2 seed Hebron Christian for a first-round match.

The state softball playoffs are also ongoing despite the rainy weather that hindered play Wednesday and Thursday.

In Class AA second-round action, Buford continues its quest as a third-straight state title when it plays host to Walnut Grove in a best-of-three series beginning at 3 p.m. today.

Banks County, the No. 2 seed out of Region 8-AA, travels to Region 7-AA champion Rockmart and Commerce plays at Eagles Landing at 3 and 5 p.m. today.

Jackson County, the fourth seed out of Region 8-AAA, is still stuck in the first round because of the weather but will continue play against Region 5-AAA champion St. Pius at 3:30 p.m. today.

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