Dalton volleyball seniors Molly Martin and Kara Pendley believe their team is a completely different one compared to before this past weekend’s tournament at Darlington.
If Tuesday’s action showed anything, then it is a change for the better.
The Lady Catamounts swept an Area 7-4A tri-match with Pickens and LaFayette at the Cats Den. They beat the Lady Dragons 26-24, 25-9 and toppled the Lady Ramblers 25-11, 25-21. LaFayette beat Pickens in the middle matchup 25-18, 25-22.
In the Darlington Invitational, Dalton (13-8, 3-1) lost all three of its pool play matches before rolling through bracket play and winning the Silver Championship. Martin believes it did wonders.
“We really have grown a lot since Darlington,” said the outside hitter, who had 12 kills in Tuesday’s tri-match. “Even the younger girls were coming forward and really connecting out there.”
Pendley, Dalton’s starting setter, had 26 total assists against Pickens (5-5, 2-3) and LaFayette, whom coach Sherry Huggins said is 1-3 in area play; she did not know her team’s overall record. Pendley also saw a significant contrast in Dalton’s play Tuesday compared to last week.
“We really grew and did so together as a team,” she said.
Coach Joey Wills also senses improvement in how the squad moves and reacts.
“What I was most pleased with today is they’re playing more as a team,” he said. “They are starting to cover for one another and they’re moving as a unit instead of as individuals.”
And similar to how the Lady Cats ended their run at Darlington, they responded to adversity before finishing off the competition Tuesday. With Dalton leading 18-8 in the final game of the night, LaFayette scored 13 of the next 15 points.
However, the Lady Ramblers put together their rally against Dalton substitutes. Wills had decided before the match to try to get some of his younger players experience, knowing he could return starters to the court if necessary. In the end, it wasn’t.
“We were able to go ahead and finish it,” Wills said.
Two assists from Pendley to Susan Meinders gave Dalton a 22-21 lead. Two unforced errors by the Lady Ramblers followed by one last Pendley-to-Meinders combination ended the match and the night.
“I think we’re just good at kicking into gear when we need to,” Martin said.
The one thing Wills wants to fix is misfiring on serves. In the LaFayette match, the Lady Cats watched 12 serves either go into the net or out of play.
“Our serving was a little weak,” he said. “We had been working on it, so I was disappointed. I don’t mind if they go long, because it means we’re being aggressive. If it goes into the net, then I’m disappointed.”
Meinders finished with 19 kills for the night, and added a string of three straight aces in the final game. Ashleigh Peters added nine of her own.
• Southeast Whitfield took two Area 7-4A matches at Gilmer. The Lady Raiders, ranked No. 5 in the latest Class 4A Ga.PrepCountry.com coach’s poll, beat Heritage-Catoosa, 25-11, 25-18, and then Gilmer, 25-23, 25-6.
Megan Collins had 24 digs and 22 kills to lead Southeast (19-8, 4-0). Hannah Graham had 45 assists, 18 digs and seven kills. Wendy Perez had 15 kills. Serena Ramsey had 10 kills. Yasmeen Paloblanco had 13 digs.
“I’m very pleased,” Lady Raiders coach Jake Dickey said. “It felt like we played well. Going up to Gilmer over the mountain, you never know how a team will travel.”
• Northwest Whitfield won its first Area 7-4A match of the season, beating Ridgeland 25-6, 18-25, 25-16.
Mary Kate Allen had nine kills, five aces, three blocks and one dig to fill the stat sheet for Northwest (7-16, 1-2). Liz Trew had 15 assists, and Shelby Douglas added seven digs and one ace.
“We came out and did several things really well in the first game,” Northwest coach Jennifer Quinn said. “In the second game, we didn’t do well in receiving serves.
“We kind of got in a hole and couldn’t get out of it,” she said. “In the third game, we kind of took over and finished it at the end.”
Northwest’s JV squad lost 25-14, 25-16 to Ridgeland. Quinn did not know the team’s record.
• Calhoun swept to an Area 5-2A win over Murray County in Chatsworth, winning 25-15, 25-17.
The Lady Indians (3-11, 2-6) were led by Kelsey Love, who had an ace, two kills and three blocks, while Gabbie Bordelon finished the night with six assists.
In a junior varsity match, Alex Johnson had three aces, four assists, a kill and a dig to pace Murray County in a 25-23, 25-14 loss to Calhoun. Lilly Harris added a kill and two blocks for the Lady Indians.
• Coahulla Creek lost an Area 4-3A match to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, 18-25, 25-17, 25-21. Becca Bailey had 18 assists and two kills to lead the Lady Colts (9-18, 3-2). Casey Quarles, Taylor Ogle and Macey Fossett each had six kills. Fossett also added two digs. Desirae Sardina and Erin Orem each had five kills.
• North Murray did not report results from scheduled matches by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Northwest Whitfield’s scheduled meet with Ringgold was canceled. Bruins coach Tom Sell said. He did not know the exact reason why it was called off.
• All four local games scheduled for Tuesday were postponed because of inclement weather and/or wet field conditions.
Dalton’s game at Southeast Whitfield and Murray County’s game at Model will both be made up at 5 p.m. Monday. Northwest Whitfield will make up its game against visiting LaFayette at 5 p.m. today. No makeup date has been set for Christian Heritage’s game at Darlington.