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May 5, 2014

Irwin, Baconton have rematch in semifinals

TIFTON — The old saying is "revenge is a dish best served cold." For the most part, the Irwin County Lady Indians would agree with that. As the sport involved is tennis, it would be "revenge is a dish best served." The team they would like to be on the other half of that is Baconton Charter, their opponent in today's state semifinals. That match will be played in Camilla at 1 p.m.

The Lady Blazers knocked them out last year, a 3-1 defeat in the Class A public state finals.

"They've been looking forward to this," said Irwin head coach Luke Roberts. "Baconton has been in the back of their minds all year. That's who you want to play. To be the best you have to beat the best," he said.

Baconton has advanced this far with wins over Hawkinsville (3-0) and Trion (3-1). The Lady Blazers are quite similar to last year.

"They lost their No. 1 singles [player], but they look to be strong," Roberts said. He believes they have shuffled their lineup somewhat as well, but they remain very familiar.

That makes them similar to his own squad, who won region this year.

"We're a veteran team," he said, and at the end of the year, "we'll only lose one player." That is Summer Pridgen, his No. 3 singles player. Maddie Barton is his No. 1 and Alex Rhodes is No. 2. Doubles teams are twins Jordan and Jadyn Jankiewicz at No. 1 and Kaley Youghn and Maggie Martin at No. 2. Others on the roster are Payton Posey, Abi Walker and Rebecca Paulk.

"They're a great bunch of girls," said Roberts. "They love the game and they're great students."

Not only will the game be an attempt at revenge for last year's state finals loss, but also for the Indians. They were defeated in the first round of competition by Baconton this year and also lost in last year's state finals, though that was against Marion County.

Their path to the finals in 2014 was a 5-0 defeat of Mitchell County in the first round and 3-0 against Commerce in the quarterfinals.

If Irwin advances, they play either Gordon Lee or area mate Telfair County in the state finals. That match would be at Clayton County International Park Saturday.

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20140801 Tift volleyball.JPG

The 2014 Tift County Lady Devils volleyball team. Summer Bennett, Chat Butts, Carolina Carter, Kaleigh Hobby, Molly Jones, Savannah Kendrick, Mariena McCullough, Dail Adaway, Vanity Golson, Alex Miller, Taylor Nimmo, Amanda Riddle, Logan Seeman, Taylor Cross, Karina Delgado, Audrey McElhaney, Madison Spivey, Julianna Cross and Olivia Thomas Assistants are Dana Fletcher and Chance Benson. Head coach is Courtney Mitchell.

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