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LOCAL COLLEGE ROUNDUP: ASU volleyball wins home opener, sweeps Tuskegee; Darton men's soccer tops Thomas College

Albany State star sophomore Sharme Ridley, right, spikes the ball against Tuskegee during the Lady Rams’ home opener Wednesday. ASU won easily, 3-0. (john.millikan@albanyherald.com)

Albany State star sophomore Sharme Ridley, right, spikes the ball against Tuskegee during the Lady Rams’ home opener Wednesday. ASU won easily, 3-0. (john.millikan@albanyherald.com)

No. 1 Darton men rout Thomas, 6-1

ALBANY – The Darton State College Cavaliers beat Thomas University’s junior varsity squad, 6-1, in a non-conference game late Tuesday in Thomasville.

The Cavs, ranked No. 1 in the nation by the latest NJCAA poll, had a 1-0 lead at halftime before scoring five goals in the second half. Alejandro Garcia and Jowayne Laidley each scored two goals. Jaylon Bather and Oshaine Johnson also found the net with a goal apiece.

“We had about 18 good chances to score,” Darton head soccer coach Bart Sasnett said, “and we put away a third of them. That’s not bad.”

Thomas got its lone goal by a free kick in the second half of play.

“This was the first game that we have had every player available and ready to play,” Sasnett said, noting that suspensions and injuries had sidelined some of his student-athletes in previous matches.

The undefeated Cavs improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play. They’ll take a break from match play before hosting Middle Georgia College on Sept. 20 at 8:30 p.m.

ALBANY — Jillian Anderson can soar on the volleyball court, and she hears about it all the time.

“They say I jump higher than anybody else on the floor,” Anderson said.

She was certainly soaring in Wednesday night’s home opener, leading the Albany State volleyball team to a 25-14, 25-16, 25-11 sweep of Tuskegee.

Anderson finished with a team-high 14 kills and did so while making only one error — a performance Albany State coach Robert Skinner credits to her vertical jump.

“There’s not another girl who can get up that high on my team,” Skinner said. “We haven’t played anybody who can jump that high. She gets up higher than most boys.”

Playing in front of a crowd of several hundred, the entire Albany State team was on fire Wednesday against an overmatched Tuskegee team that is often at the bottom of the conference standings. The game counted as a non-conference victory, but it gave the 3-7 Lady Rams a much-needed win with starters Jennifer Evans and Ashley Johnson out with concussions.

“With the absence of a couple of starters, I think we did a very good job,” Skinner said. “We put in other athletes on the floor that hadn’t been playing much and gave them an opportunity to play, and they meshed with the starters really well.”

No one was playing quite like Anderson, a 5-foot-9 junior from Athens who finished with a hitting percentage of .684, a block and a block assist. She said after the game, which lasted a little more than an hour, it was one of her best collegiate performances.

“There were good sets, and the block wasn’t really there,” Anderson said. “I could see there was only one block on me, and I could see around it. It was just an easy kill.”

Anderson then added: “I can see the floor while I’m in the air, so I can see the hole on the floor where I need to hit it. And that’s where I hit it.”

Sophomore outside hitter Sharme Ridley also had a good night at the net, finishing with 11 kills and seven digs.

“We kind of knew what to expect with Tuskegee,” Ridley said. “Our biggest competition in the (conference) will probably be Claflin and Stillman, but I’m glad we won (Wednesday).”

The Lady Rams never trailed, jumping out to an early lead in the opening set thanks to kills by Amber Gatling and Anderson. Tuskegee (2-2) hung with ASU for the first half of the second set, but a string of six service points from Lady Rams setter Jennifer Johnson helped ASU pull away and ease to a nine-point win. ASU saved its biggest hits for the final set, where it slammed the door shut on the Lady Tigers by finishing with seven straight points.

The Lady Rams combined for 35 kills, compared to just 16 for Tuskegee, and ASU’s hitting percentage of .282 was more than twice that of Tuskegee’s (.117).

Gatling added five kills, Jessica Mann had a team-high four block assists, Johnson led the Lady Rams with 27 assists and Adrienne Morris had a team-high 14 digs.

The Lady Rams play again Monday at Fort Valley State and then head to the conference’s crossover tournament in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 20-22 to play the six teams from the West Division.