TEAM HUDDLE

Jefferson gathers before playing the third set Saturday against Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe in the first round of the state tournament. The Dragons won the match 3-0 (25-12, 25-15, 25-14). 

JEFFERSON — Before the dance, the Dragons dominated.

With homecoming festivities awaiting them later, Jefferson’s volleyball players made quick work of visiting Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe, sweeping the Warriors in three sets (25-12, 25-15, 25-14) Saturday in the first round of the Class AAA state tournament.

“It’s a rainy day; it’s homecoming,” Dragon coach Brittani Lawrence said. “I feel like we came out here and we showed up. We did what we needed to do, and did our thing. We ran what we needed to do.”

Jefferson (34-5) will advance to the Sweet 16 against Greater Atlanta Christian (25-13) Tuesday at home (time TBA).

“I think that’s going to be a good fight,” Lawrence said. “I think we’re both ready to activate our systems, to both just get out there and play the great game of volleyball.”

Lawrence expects that to be a matchup of evenly-matched teams. 

"We both have tricks up our sleeves, and I think it will be exciting to see who wants it the most and who is going to make the least amount of mistakes,” she said.

Against Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe, the Dragons took a 10-6 lead in the first set and separated themselves with seven-straight points. The key run included two kills each from Abbey Howard and Annabelle Cox. Jefferson later built a 20-12 lead and then reeled off five straight points to end the set.

Jefferson fell behind in the second set briefly, but tied it 5-5 with a kill from JoJo Smith and went ahead with an ace from Kamdyn Hendrix. The Dragons built up a 21-10 lead after an ace from Maddie Grace Smith, en route to taking set two.

The Dragons trailed the final set 8-6 until a kill and three-straight aces from JoJo Smith put them ahead 10-8, and the Dragons never trailed again. Smith’s serving spree was part of a 16-3 run that put the Dragons up 22-11.

With Jefferson up 24-14 on match point, JoJo Smith finished off Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe with an emphatic kill.

Smith totaled nine kills and four aces in the victory. She also had six digs. Annabelle Cox added six kills, an ace and two digs while Margo Perry had five kills.

Maddie Grace Smith set up the offense with 25 assists. She also had two aces and four digs.

Kamdyn Hendrix finished with 10 digs and three aces and a kill. Sophia Stopher had nine digs, three assists and an ace.

Lawrence noted the efforts of several players in the opening-round win.

“Kamdyn Hendrix did a phenomenal job on her serving game,” she said. “That second set, I want to say she rattled off five, maybe even seven, just one after another after another, and then she did a quick transition getting into defense. So, she played phenomenal.

“I think JoJo (Smith) was a powerhouse on that outside. When she wanted it, she took care of business, swinging all the time. Annabelle (Cox) did a great job as well swinging. They’re constantly mixing it up and running their position.”

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