It was senior night at “the Ford” on Sep. 17 and the Lady Tigers varsity volleyball team celebrated by sweeping through a trio of opponents from every corner of North Georgia as they faced the Alcovy Tigers, Athens Christian Eagles and the Union County Panthers in an emotion packed night.
Traveling over two hours from Newton County, the Alcovy Tigers took the floor for the first match of the evening as a complete unknown to head coach Tanya Porter as it was the first time she had faced the team in her four years with Dawson County.
“I don’t know anything about them,” Porter said. “I have never even seen them play before tonight.”
With senior Chloe Bennett calling the plays for Dawson County it did not take long for the team to get a read on Alcovy. After exchanging a handful of points on the opening serves, junior Makale Everett opened up the scoring with a five-point run from the service line, and the Lady Tigers never looked back as Bennett added five more on her turn at the line, followed by a seven point run from junior Micaela McClendon to capture the first set by the score of 25 – 11. McClendon’s hot streak continued with another six points to open the second set, and the Lady Tigers made quick work of their opponents as they closed out the match before completing the first team service rotation.
The night’s second match featured Union County and they came to town seeking revenge after losing to the Lady Tigers in straight sets earlier this season. Unfortunately for the Panthers the Lady Tigers rode the wave of momentum generated in game one to another straight set victory as Dawson County took an early lead in both sets and slowly pulled away for the win.
In between games two and three, Dawson County took time to recognize Bennett and fellow senior Marlie Townley, both founding members of the program and the first two players to graduate from the Dawson County varsity volleyball team.
In a truly classy moment, coach Porter first recognized by name each of the seniors from the three schools that had come to compete ensuring that each young lady received the recognition of the crowd and a small gift from the Lady Tigers. She then presented Bennett and Townley, sharing the story of Dawson County volleyball along the way.
“When we first started the program there was really only one girl that had ever played even one set of volleyball, and we quickly recruited her,” Porter said. “And then we decided we couldn’t go wrong if we recruited athletes, and, boy, did we find a good pair of athletes in these two young ladies.”
Escorted by family, both Bennett and Townley, obviously keeping some emotions in check, exchanged hugs with their coaches and teammates and talked briefly about their experiences with the program.
“I found a sport I love to play, and my best friend (referring to Townley),” Bennett said. “All of my best memories are of volleyball and I can’t wait to see how this program grows and where it is going to go.”
Townley was quick to agree, saying that she had planned to say the exact same thing, but she also talked about the benefit of playing volleyball in regard to life in general.
“It really helped me develop as a person,” Townley said. “Teamwork, good sportsmanship, and leadership. All of those things will be really important.”
After the ceremony, the Lady Tigers faced off against Athens Christian in the final match of the night and the Panthers were quickly overwhelmed by a home team that was flying high on the emotion of the night. Townley opened the first set with an eight-point service and then closed the set with another five straight points including two aces. The second set went just as rapidly, but this time it was Bennett putting up the numbers as she racked up three aces during and eight point run to put the Panthers away and secured the match by a final score of 2-0.The victories extended the Lady Tigers longest winning streak of the season to six games and moved their overall record to 17 – 13 as they prepare to visit the number one ranked Habersham Lady Raiders on Sep. 19.