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Norcross romps to first-round sweep

NORCROSS -- The state volleyball tournament was over for Norcross almost as soon as it started a year ago. This time it looks like the Blue Devils might be around for awhile.

"This was just the first step," coach Jeff Cerneka said. "Hopefully, we'll end up with five victories, not just one."

Grayson was no challenge for host Norcross in the first-round of Class AAAAAA play, falling 25-13, 25-10 and 25-10 in a sweep Thursday night that took just a little more than an hour.

The competition will get tougher round by round, but the Blue Devils may just be up to the task after winning their first area championship since 2008 and earning a No. 1 tournament seed.

"We have some good athletes and we're coming together," said Cerneka, in his second season as Norcross coach. "We feel really good about our chances. We have a great group of girls. Our chemistry is very good and I enjoy being around them."

The Blue Devils, which lost in the first round to Roswell last year, never trailed by more than a point in any set against Grayson while rolling to the easy victory.

Area 8-AAAAAA champion Norcross (37-9) has three Blue Devils basketball players on its front line and they dominated at the net against Grayson, the fourth-place team from Area 7-AAAAAA.

Colby Meeks had 12 kills, while Syndey Marshall recorded 11 and Javonne Stanfield contributed nine.

But the Blue Devils turned in a strong all-round performance, with freshman setter Sammie Baker recording 25 assists and adding five aces. Shelby King added three aces and Lindsay Holmes had six digs.

"Our mindset if that if we take care of our side of the net, we'll be fine," Cerneka said.

After not leading in the first set, Grayson (11-23) went up 6-5 early in the second. But Norcross then ran off nine straight points to regain momentum.

The Rams' only other leads of the match were at 1-0 and 2-1 in the third set.

Norcross won three straight area titles from 2006-2008, but then took a step back. Now the Blue Devils appear to be at the top of their game again with another home match set for Tuesday in the second round.

Norcross fell out of the coaches ranking after rising to No. 9, but Cerneka isn't concerned about that.

"The rankings really don't matter right now," the coach said. "In the state tournament, its win and move on."