After finishing out its second full season, the Dawson County High School volleyball program held a banquet last week to celebrate the accomplishments achieved in its short existence.
The dinner and awards were held on Oct. 30 at the Professional Development Center.
“I think our season, our team has been the epitome of growing through what we have gone through,” said Head Coach Tanya Porter. “There were times last year when we were all discouraged, where our record didn’t reflect the effort we were putting into it.
“We continued to fight and persevere and this year was a lot, lot better finishing where we did—to make it to state. As players, at all different times, have all had to grow through whatever it is that God put before us to go through.”
Porter thanked a long list of supporters that have made the program possible in its early stages—crediting the school administration, students from last year and this year as well as the many sponsors and parents who have contributed.
This year’s varsity team made it into the first round of the state playoffs where they were eliminated by Westminster School. The team finished the season 24-20 while defeating rivals Lumpkin County to earn the bid to state.
The junior varsity team continued to develop under the leadership of Coach Rebecca Wilkes who said it was an adventure for her to lead the group that included: Ashton Bonney, Isabella Brown, AnnaBella Frix, Kassidy Jones, Kailee LeBel, Micaela McClendon, Brianna McConnell, Kenzie Smith, Rachel Swafford and Olivia Walls.
Coach Tina Brown helped Wilkes with the JV program and Addison Hoard and Wyatt Smith served as managers for the JV and varsity volleyball program.
Also for the second year, community coach Kristi Creegan volunteered her service to both programs. Porter said that her help has been invaluable.
Porter asked the varsity team to vote prior to the banquet for the six awards given out.
Senior Amber Fite received the players award.
According to Porter, the team would not be successful without Fite and she led by example averaging 6.8 digs, 4.8 kills and two aces a match. She had a 91 percent serving average.
With an unanimous vote, Harmony Evans was named the team’s most improved player. Evans averaged two kills a game and had an 83 percent service average.
The sportsmanship award went to Chloe Bennett for her contributions and attitude. Bennett played middle hitter and averaged 4 kills and 4 digs a game.
Creegan explained how she issued a challenge to Bennett who had struggled with passing early in the year.
“I told her, ‘you can’t pass.’” Creegan said laughing.
That was a challenge Bennett took seriously and worked on the skill to become one of the better all around players.
Defensive player of the year was Kati Brady. Porter said that whenever the team faced a big hitter, she would coordinate a shift in the lineup so Brady was in position to make play.
“We would tell her to just step in and take it,” Porter said. “And she would.”
Porter called her a humble servant and a team player.
Brady averaged almost 8 digs a game and also had a 91 percent service average.
The offensive player of the year award went to middle hitter Roxie Fricton who is also new to the sport, but has taken off averaging 7 kills a game. She also had a 91 percent serving average.
Fricton’s enthusiasm up front was also a motivation for her teammates, according to Porter who attempted to imitate Fricton’s signature fist pump move and jump following a play at the net.
Brittany Sayler, the team setter, was named most valuable player for the second year in a row.
“It was no surprise,” said Porter.
One of the only players with prior volleyball experience gave up her normal position of libero to become setter for the young program.
“Stats don’t reflect how much she did,” Porter said. “She was key for us as a leader on and off the floor. She was a pivotal role player for our team last season and this season.”
Sayler averaged 15 assists a game, including 1.5 aces and a 91 percent service average.
Porter closed the evening by telling the team what a pleasure it was for her to watch the young team grow.