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Lady Tigers split games to close first half of season
Senior Chloe Bennett launches into her serve on Aug. 27 as the Lady Tigers defeated Gilmer in straight sets. - Photo by Bob Christian

In a change of pace, the Lady Tigers volleyball team played only two games last week before taking a well-deserved break for the Labor Day weekend. Mirroring the up-and-down nature of the 2019 season, Dawson County saw split results Aug. 27 with a win over the Gilmer Bobcats and a three-set loss to the Gainesville Red Elephants.

Head Coach Tanya Porter acknowledged the challenging nature of the season, noting the team has played 23 games in the first three weeks, but remained optimistic about the Lady Tigers development as the year progresses.

“It’s been a really long season already, and we’ve played a lot of games. Right now, I think we are just tired,” Porter said. “The best part of that is that girls are getting experience playing in a variety of positions which will give us options and depth as we go through the season.”

Dawson County looked strong in the opening game with the Lady Bobcats as outside hitters Chloe Bennett (SR) and Hayley Selzer (JR) took full advantage of the team’s recently debuted 6-2 rotation to spike the ball hard and often into the Gilmer defense leading the Lady Tigers to a straight set victory.

“The advantages to a 6-2 have been that we now always have three hitters and blockers on the front row in every rotation because our setter is a backrow player,” Porter said. “And in most rotations, we have two setters on the floor at a time which allows us to handle the out of system ball much better.”

Senior Marlie Townley, who has emerged as an early season team leader, mentioned the new rotation as one of the many changes to this year’s version of the Lady Tigers.

“There are a lot of new faces, and, of course, our new rotation,” Townley said. “I feel like we are adapting really well and growing as a team.”

The second match of the evening featured “a really good Gainesville team” according to Porter, and the Lady Tigers stood toe-to-toe through the first two sets, with each being decided by the bare minimum two points required to win.

Unfortunately, in a worsening trend for Dawson County, the Red Elephants ran away with the third set to win the match by a final score of 2-1, marking the seventh straight three set loss for the Lady Tigers.

“We are very frustrated by our performance in 3 set matches,” Porter said. “My assistant coach (Kristi Kreegan) and I spent a great deal of time after the match on Tuesday reviewing film and discussing areas in our defense that we need to look at more closely.”

“We specifically looked at rotations in which we typically have given up the most points and looked for ways to maybe change or tweak those particular rotations.  We will be working the rest of this week and into next week on those changes to hopefully see some improvement where we are struggling.”

The Lady Tigers will face their toughest slate of games this season on Sep. 5 as they start a seven game homestand against the state ranked No. 1 Habersham Central Lady Raiders followed by the team’s third match with the White County Lady Warriors.