Despite playing against the toughest schedule coach Brittani Lawrence said she's ever compiled, the Jefferson volleyball team continues to collect victories.
The Dragons improved to 10-4 with a 25-15, 25-23 win over Class AAAAAA Winder-Barrow Tuesday at home.
Jefferson will host Mill Creek, Walnut Grove and North Hall Thursday starting at 5 p.m as the Dragons’ demanding schedule continues.
“I believe these players have earned the ability to play such a tough schedule,” Lawrence said. “This is the toughest schedule I’ve ever created … They’re willing to step out here, to play the ball, to be their absolute best.”
Against Winder-Barrow, the Dragons won the first set by a convincing margin and then found themselves tied 23-23 in the second set before securing the decisive two points. Olivia Burrage ended the second set and the match with a kill into the back row.
“We kind of tripped over our own toes, kind of lost the momentum,” Lawrence said of the second set. “But I give these girls props for being resilient for having the ability to bounce back when they were in such a sticky situation.”
The victory capped a 2-0 day for Jefferson, which throttled Elbert County 25-2, 25-1 in the early match.
In the win over Elbert County, Mia Mingus finished with 12 aces, while Annabelle Cox added six aces. Maddie Grace Smith totaled seven assists. Burrage finished with four kills, while Bekah Johnson added two kills and an assist.
Against Winder-Barrow, Burrage had five blocks and three kills. Cox had three kills also. Maddie Grace Smith had seven assists. Others contributing were Abbey Howard (one ace, one block, one dig, three kills), Dallas Morse (one ace, one block, one kill), Sophia Stopher (two digs, one ace, one kill) and JoJo Smith (one block, one kill).
“Overall, I thought we did a great job,” Lawrence said. “I thought we handled the business when we needed to. We still have our fair share of mistakes, but we’re also working every single day to be better. It’s a progress of success, and I think we’re right where we need to be right now.”
Though Jefferson swept its matches Tuesday, Lawrence noted that eight matches have gone to tiebreakers so far this season. Her team has a 6-2 mark in those matches “which I think speaks a lot to our mentality,” Lawrence said.
“I’ve always believed this game is 51 percent mental and 49 percent physical, and for us to battle through a tiebreaker … and pull out some wins from some of those matches, it really speaks a lot to their character,” she said.
The Dragons are also off to a 10-4 start despite being without the services of star hitter JoJo Smith, who has been resting a stress fracture. Smith returned to the court Tuesday and is being eased back into the lineup.
“We kept her out for as long as possible,” Lawrence said. “I know that she’s been itching to get back into the game, but even just her presence on the sideline speaks a lot. These players look up to her as a leader.”
Lawrence said the team was initially “frazzled” without Smith on the floor but rallied around each other in her absence.
“We learned that we can do it,” Lawrence said, ”that we are all in this together.”