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Wolves roll while Baughn rested

NORCROSS - Grace Leah Baughn, who has been bothered by a sore back, was cleared medically and could have played Tuesday night.

Wesleyan coach Ted Russell wouldn't let her, though.

"I decided to role the dice and hope that we didn't need her," the Wolves coach said of the talented junior. "I knew the extra three days would be beneficial."

Russell made the right call. Wesleyan is in the Class AA/A volleyball elite eight and he'll have a healthier Baughn ready for Saturday.

The No. 1-ranked Wolves (31-17) had no problem with No. 7-rated Lovett, sweeping the visiting Lions 25-11, 25-18, 25-18 in a second-round match that lasted only about an hour.

As the No. 1 seed from Area 7-AA/A, Wesleyan was home in the first two rounds and that will again be the case on Saturday. The quarterfinals and semifinals are at Yancey Gymnasium, with the championship match in Marietta on Oct. 31.

Wesleyan had won four consecutive state titles before falling to eventual champion Westminster in the quarterfinals last year.

The teams will be reseeded for the elite eight this season, with that taking place today. "I'd assume we'd be No. 1," Russell said. "That's where we're ranked [in the GACA coaches poll] and we've beaten all the remaining teams in the Top 10."

Maggie Smith's serving was a key in the victory over Lovett. The junior setter had six aces to go with 20 assists, four digs and two kills.

Anna Keappler, who is having a banner senior season, had nine kills, six digs, three blocks and an assist for the Wolves. Haley Collins, another senior, had 10 assists, a dig and an assist.

With Baughn out, junior Wilson Sprinkle had a big game in an expanded role. She had seven kills, 11 digs, an assist and an ace. Alex Middleton, another junior, had five kills, three blocks and two aces.

"We moved people around, but we're used to that," Russell said. "With all the injuries we've had this year, players have had to switch positions a lot and that's actually helped us grow as a team."