The Lady Tigers faced their first test at home in the inaugural volleyball season at Dawson County High School last Thursday.
An experienced Pinecrest Academy squad handled Dawson in straight sets (25-14, 25-8, 25-14) to win the match.
An enthusiastic student section encouraged the young team during the historic outing.
"Our turn out was awesome. I couldn't have asked for a better crowd. The students really got into it. They had signs up which made it fun for the girls," said Head Coach Tanya Porter.
Despite the loss, Porter was once again pleased with the effort by the team.
"We played our best match of the season," Porter said. "I thought Pinecrest ran some things against us that we have not only not seen before-quick sets, swing blocking...things we have not even discussed really."
In the first set, junior setter Brittany Sayler had a run of serves that put the Paladins a little off balance and allowed the Lady Tigers some space.
The Paladins took a time out to try and disrupt the pattern and were able to get a side out.
Senior outside hitter Adeline Seiferth was trouble for Dawson throughout the evening with tough floating serves that the young team struggled to return.
The blockers were surprised by Pinecrest dinks, Porter said.
"The setter did that little dink on us the second or third play of the game and my blockers looked over at me like, ‘what is that?'" she said.
Even though the Lady Tigers faced offensive weapons they were unaccustomed to, players stepped up to battle back.
Libero Lydia Watson was able to dig up some of the early hits from the Pinecrest front line.
Roxie Fricton had four kills and Kaylee Sticker had two, but the Lady Tigers could not keep the serve for any extended period.
"We had some really good volleys against them and we just stayed in it," Porter said. "I was very encouraged by what I saw Thursday."
Early in the second set, the Lady Tigers were keeping it close at 8-6 when Pinecrest went on a run that put them up 15-6.
The lack of ball control for Dawson County proved to be an ongoing issue.
Emma Brown had two aces and two blocks during the match. Sticker also had three blocks and Fricton had two.
The Lady Tigers move to 0-4 overall and play Gilmer County and Creekview tomorrow. The matches are at 5 and 6 p.m. at Gilmer County.
Dawson County's junior varsity team played best two out of three sets and lost in two to the Paladins.
They lost the first set 25-17 despite keeping multiple rallies going.
In the second set the Lady Tigers rallied again and tied things up at 20.
Service errors worked against them but they continued to hold and tied the set again at 24 before losing 26-24.