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Cherokee Bluff takes care of business against Redan in first round of volleyball playoffs
Up next, Lady Bears will host Southeast Bulloch on Saturday in Flowery Branch
Cherokee Bluff volleyball 2021
Cherokee Bluff's Sage Sutulovich (15) slams the ball back over the net against Lumpkin County in the Area 7-3A tournament on Oct. 7, 2021 in Gainesville. Photo by Bill Murphy

Volleyball is a game of placement and positioning. 

Any chance a player can find the smallest gap, they will look for it the rest of the night.

Cherokee Bluff High’s volleyball team found the open gaps, sweeping Redan 3-0 (25-7, 25-8, and 25-14) in front of an energetic crowd in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament Tuesday in Flowery Branch. 

The win propels the Bears (38-16) to second-round of the Class 3A state playoffs. Cherokee Bluff will host Southeast Bulloch on Saturday.

“I thought it was really fun to play in the first-round,” libero Abbi Hutchins said. “I thought we did good.”

From beginning to end, the Lady Bears (38-16) were too much for the Raiders. 

They focused on getting the ball into the gaps of Redan’s defense. Hutchins, who finished with three aces and two digs, led the attack setting teammates for tremendous scoring opportunities. Her teammates responded and took advantage of the point opportunities.

Sage Sutulovich had eight kills for Cherokee Bluff, while Brandyn Peterson finished with four kills. Also for the Lady Bears, Grace-Blythe Cornett filled the stat sheet with four kills, four assists and three aces. Emma Staples chipped in with six kills, two aces and a dig. 

The Lady Bears filled every statistical category possible. 

Building the IQ has been something Lady Bears coach Laura DeLaPerriere has focused on since starting the program. 

She credits her seniors, who were freshman at the time, taking it upon themselves to buy into succeeding. 

Cherokee Bluff won only five games in its inaugural season. 

They have been in the state playoffs every year since then. 

Now the focus is getting beyond the next round.

“I remember telling these seniors, I didn’t come here to lose after the first season,” DeLaPerriere said. 

“That changed the mindset to do whatever we needed to do to the best of our abilities. My senior leadership has been amazing. I think we’re peaking at the right time.”

Cherokee Bluff’s fans came out in support of the Bears. They had pink t-shirts with the 7th Man on the back as they cheered every point. The players wore pink jerseys in support of October being Cancer Awareness month. Everything just went right for Cherokee Bluff on the night.

“We needed to use this game as preparation for the next game,” DeLaPerriere said. “This was a community thing for our school. We got that done and get to the next game.”

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