The reward for the Lady Canes was a second-round matchup with a top team from Region 6, one of the most competive regions in the state, Woodward Academy.
Ultimately, Cartersville was unable to overcome the misfortune of having to play Woodward in the second round as the Lady Canes lost three singles matches and were eliminated from the state playoffs Monday afternoon at Dellinger Park.
“[Woodward Academy] is a real strong team. They have a lot of good players,” Cartersville head coach Melissa Moore said. “The region they play in is tough because they have St. Pius and Blessed Trinity in their region, and they were one and two, so all three teams in their region are very, very close. [Woodward is] very competitive.
“We’re extremely proud of our team. The girls won back-to-back region titles, which is awesome.”
Woodward proved how competitive it was as Cartersville’s No. 1 singles player, Mallory Walker, and No. 2 singles player, Kenly King, each lost 6-0, 6-0. Taylor Riddle took three games at the No. 3 singles line, but still fell 6-2, 6-1.
“The scores don’t reflect the level of play we had today,” Moore said. “Each of the games were a lot closer.
“There were lots of pretty long volleys.”
“There were a lot of deuces,” assistant coach Stephanie Erick added. “Even our singles today, I think they could have pulled that match out. There were a lot of unforced errors. They know what to do, but sometimes you just can’t get that ball to fall and they never gave up.”
Haley Landrum and Kendyl Westmoreland, who went undefeated this season, won their first set at the No. 2 doubles line, 6-3, and were tied in the second set. However, the match was called after Woodward secured the necessary three matches to advance and play stopped.
“Our No. 2 doubles went undefeated, which is a really great feat when you think about it,” Moore said. “All the matches they played together and they were undefeated, even in the state playoffs, so they were a really good duo.”
According to Moore and Erick, the doubles teams have been a strong point all season long for Cartersville.
“Normally, we depend on singles heavy, so it was so nice to consistently know that your doubles teams can pull it out just as well as your singles,” Erick said. “That doesn’t always happen, so that’s been a blessing this year.”
Despite Cartersville’s 20-2 regular season record, Moore and Erick would have liked to have seen their team face tougher competition to be better prepared for the state tournament and teams such as Woodward.
“That’s the one thing that hurt us this year, is the competition wasn’t there,” Moore said. “We had to play every team in the region twice, so that limits how many outside-the-region matches we had.”
“I’m really thrilled about moving up to [Class AAAA] next season. I think that will really help us going forward,” Erick said. “It’s just a higher level of play and a different level than what we had in the last two seasons. We want the competition and we’re looking forward to a highly competitive season.”
Cartersville is ready for Class AAAA next year as the Lady Canes dominated Region 5-AAA the past two seasons, winning the region title in both years. Each the boys and girls teams only graduate one senior and, according to Moore, have an influx of quality players on the horizon.
“For both the boys and girls teams, we have a lot of promising talent coming up from the middle schol next year,” Moore said. “There’s going to be a lot of competition for spots.”