In only their third year, the Dawson County High School Lady Tigers (No. 3 7-AAA) volleyball team faced off against the Calhoun Yellow Jackets (No.1 5-AAA) in a Georgia High School Association State (GHSA) Tournament Sweet Sixteen matchup on Tuesday, Oct. 23 in Calhoun.
Playing in a best of five format, the Lady Tigers quickly found themselves on the wrong side of home court advantage and experience as their tournament and their season were ended in a three-set sweep by the Yellow Jackets.
From the first serve of the first set the Lady Tigers appeared to be battling themselves more than their opponents as they struggled to communicate and failed to put together a meaningful offensive effort early in the match. The Yellow Jackets were quick to take advantage of the situation and rapidly opened a double-digit lead that fired up their home crowd and further rattled the Tigers.
Sensing the potential for early trouble Head Coach Tanya Porter used a timeout to settle the team down and they slowly began to whittle into the Yellow Jackets’ lead. It proved to be too much to overcome and the Tigers dropped the first set by a score of 25–14.
The second set featured the type of volleyball that fans expected from two top-level teams and every point became a battle as the teams challenged each other from every angle of the court. Excellent defensive play from juniors Roxie Fricton and Marlie Townley prevented Calhoun from running away with the points, but as the set wore on the more experienced Yellow Jackets began to pull ahead, finally winning the set by a score of 25–12 and putting the Tigers on the edge of elimination.
With the momentum of the match clearly in Calhoun’s corner, the Lady Tigers entered the third set determined not to go down without a fight. They jumped out to their first lead of the night with a quick 4-point run from junior Chloe Bennet.
The Yellow Jackets proved to be just as determined not to let their advantage slip away and they quickly re-took control of the set once again running up points on the Lady Tigers in bunches. Despite a brilliant defensive effort from sophomore Micaela McClendon late in the set that sparked the Tigers for a 6-point streak, Dawson County was eliminated from the tournament by a final set score of 25–13.
“Our season ended a little sooner than we would have liked but wow, what a season,” said Porter on the team’s Twitter account. “Thank you to Dawson County for all your support as we made this historical run into the state playoffs.”