Last season, the Tigers volleyball team had its all-time best season of the team’s five year career. With 26 victories during a single season, they were ranked eighth in the state, the highest ranking the team has ever achieved and finishing in the elite eight of the state playoffs, the furthest the team has ever gone.
The team only lost two players to graduation this year, with Chloe Bennett moving on to play volleyball at Brenau University and Marlie Townley accepting a scholarship to play basketball at Reinhardt University.
Going into the 2020 school year, head volleyball coach Tanya Porter said that fans should definitely expect another state playoff run.
“What we have returning is really good,” Porter said. “It might be rocky as we gel with some new players, but I think after we spend a little bit of time together, we should be a strong team by the beginning of September.”
Both Bennett and Townley played the middle position, which Porter said is a big deal to replace. She added that this will force the team to have to play a little more defensive-minded than the team did last year.
“It’s just going to change putting players in the right spot to field the ball and to play defense,” Porter said.
Area play changes a little bit for the Tigers this year. A strong West Hall team joined the region along with a competitive White County team.
“When you throw in last year’s region winner North Hall, we will really have to fight to go to state this year because our region got much tougher,” Porter said.
However, three seniors will look to step up and lead the Tigers into next season: Haylee Selzer plays outside hitter, Olivia Walls plays setter and Makale Everett plays defensive specialist.
Porter said that the season has already been affected by COVID-19. Though tryouts usually happen at the end of the school year in May, Porter spent the first week of summer workouts in July running tryouts, giving the team a shorter amount of time to get used to playing with each other.
“The biggest obstacle has been the constant changes,” Porter said. “I understand the need for it, but at the same time it’s hard because one week you’re doing something and next week you’ll have to do it completely different.”
Overall, though the season will look different, the team is hungry and ready to push for another state playoff run.
The season will start on Aug. 10 at Fannin County, with the home opener being the next day on Aug. 11.