Helena Kelley

Helena Kelley takes a jumping serve during Jefferson's 2-1 loss to Flowery Branch on Tuesday (Sept. 15). The Dragons bounced back from the loss with a 2-0 win over Madison County later in the night.

Jefferson didn't start region play the way it wanted to against Flowery Branch, but the Dragons bounced back at the end of Tuesday (Sept. 14) night to defeat Madison County.

The Dragons lost to Flowery Branch 2-1 in their first match of the night. The match included a nail-bitter in the second set, but Jefferson couldn't match the Falcons' pace in the first and third sets. Jefferson ended the night by sweeping Madison County 2-0. The first set went down to the wire with the Dragons winning 25-23, but they dominated the second set 25-11.

"1-1 is not exactly what we wanted, but we'll take it," said head coach Brittani Lawrence. "We'll just keep climbing the ladder, working the ladder of success to the best of our ability. We struggled a lot in serve receive, we struggled a lot in adjusting and remaining aggressive. These are things we are constantly working on. If you look at our grade level and where we are experience-wise, we're very young. Sometimes we can play immature, which is fine, that just means that they're moldable and coachable.

"We've played a very tough non-region schedule and I believe it is prepping us for region. Although we did go 1-1, it's not over yet. We'll keep training, we'll keep practicing and we'll see Flowery Branch again."

The first set between Jefferson and Flowery Branch went back-and-forth for a while until a series of runs allowed the Falcons to pull away and win 25-18.

In the second set, Lawrence noticed her squad wasn't matching Flowery Branch's energy and enthusiasm, so during a timeout she urged them to show more excitement, especially after scores. The ploy worked as a re-energized Dragon squad defeated the Falcons by a narrow 25-23 margin in the second set. However, that energy didn't carry over enough into the third set as Jefferson lost 15-10.

"[Flowery Branch] definitely had a lot of energy. That's one thing Flowery Branch is known for, their mojo," she said. "I think that's one thing coach Taylor Bowman has done a phenomenal job in; building that culture. Does that mean that we don't have it? No, that does not mean that whatsoever.

"It's just a matter of who do we want to be. We have some team values that we've set and we're still in the process of defining them."

Jefferson bounced back to sweep Madison County later in the night, but it wasn't always pretty. The Dragons went back-and-forth with the Red Raiders early and even trailed 14-12 in the middle of the first set. That's when Jefferson went on a seven-point run to change the complexion of the set and of the entire match. Madison County did rally to tie the set 23-23, but Jefferson found two points at the end to win 25-23.

That momentum carried over into the second set which Jefferson won 25-11. The Dragons only allowed the Red Raiders to score consecutive points twice, and they went on a pair of eight-point scoring runs to put Madison County away.

"We took them that second set pretty fast and furious," Lawrence said. "The word I gave them right before we started playing Madison County was adjust. How were we going to adjust? Not only adjust coming off a really tough loss in a tough tiebreaker, but adjust in our defense, adjust in our offense, adjust in our serving game or blocking game, all aspects of the game. That's exactly what we came out and did."


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