Opening the 2018 campaign with seven games over 10 days, the Dawson County Lady Tigers volleyball team is rapidly coming together as a force to be reckoned with on the courts.
This year’s team sees only four girls returning from last year, and that inexperience showed during the Mountain Madness Tournament on August 10 as a lack of communication and cohesion led to 77 team errors in two matches.
Giving up 40 errors in their straight set loss to Fannin County (25 – 19, 29 – 27) followed by 37 errors in another straight set loss to Gilmer County (25 – 17, 26 – 24), was not the beginning anticipated by Head Coach Tanya Porter.
“Many new girls in a varsity situation, there are a lot of nerves,” she explained, “Volleyball is a game of momentum. We never had it in those first two.”
As the girls from Pickens County took the court for the night’s final game Aug. 10, the Lady Tigers huddled together around Porter and clasped hands. Ending the huddle with a thunderous “Lady Tigers” they took to the court and, in straight sets of their own, defeated the Pickens County Dragons (25 – 7, 25 – 17) to gather the first win of the season.
The second match-up of the season once again had the Lady Tigers on the road, this time visiting Gilmer County High School for a double-header with Gilmer and Lumpkin counties on Aug. 14.
“The goal tonight is to cut down on service errors,” Porter said as the team waited in the bleachers before their game with the Lumpkin County Indians.
As the first set progressed it was obvious that the team had focused on communication they called out to each other on the court, but the team was still plagued by the service errors from the first tournament and quickly fell behind early in the set.
Pulling together behind a determined defensive effort from juniors Chloe Bennett and Roxie Fricton at the net, the Lady Tigers attempted to rally but fell short to lose the first set by a score of 20 – 25.
The second set of the match was equally as tough, but with a series of kills from Fricton and sophomore Hannah Waddy along with a regrouping along the service line by the entire team the Lady Tigers took the set with ease by the score of 25 – 11.
The Lady Tigers took an early lead in the final set of the match behind a powerful serve from Bennett who put down five aces over the course of the set and, despite a strong fight from the Lumpkin County team, won the set by a score of 25 – 22 and took the first match of the night by a final of 2 – 1.
The second game of the evening was a re-match with the Bobcats of Gilmer and it was apparent that the Tigers were looking forward to the game as they jumped out to a quick lead in the first set.
With a dominating presence in the middle of the net, junior Marlie Townley contained the Bobcat’s serve and the Tigers went on to win the set by a score of 25 – 17.
The Bobcats tied the match in the second set by pulling out a close 25 – 20 win but the third set went to the Lady Tigers who, once again behind the strong serve of Bennett and Waddy, took the match with a final score of 25 – 16.
Bringing a 3 – 2 record and a three-game winning streak into Stephens County for another two games on Friday, Aug. 17, the Lady Tigers continued their frantic pace with a third road trip. Despite the team’s continued winning, Porter expressed her concerns for the upcoming matches.
“We had some problems in service and receiving, a little bit of shanking and some back row passing work,” she said about the team’s performance earlier in the week.
None of those problems seemed in evidence as the Lady Tigers put together an amazing demonstration of defense behind 10 kills each from Fricton and Bennett along with a shut-down eight ace service performance from Waddy to put away the Stephens County Indians in straight sets.
Unfortunately, the winning streak was ended at 4 as the lingering concerns of Coach Porter and a determined group of Lady Raiders out of Habersham Central ended the Lady Tigers night with a 2 – 0 loss.
Sitting at 4 – 3 on the season the Lady Tigers will be in action again, this time at home, for another double header this coming Thursday, August 23 with the first game starting at 5 p.m.