Lady Indians begin volleyball season

  • Mackenzie Caldwell delivers a powerful spike for a Lumpkin point during the team’s season opening match against North Forsyth.
    Mackenzie Caldwell delivers a powerful spike for a Lumpkin point during the team’s season opening match against North Forsyth.
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The start of the 2019 volleyball season didn’t go as LCHS head volleyball coach Haley Dibble or her players had planned when the Lady Indians went 2-6 last week.
Fresh off an undefeated regular season as the head coach of the LCMS volleyball team, Dibble was unshaken by the slow start by the Lady Indians in her first year as the LCHS head volleyball coach and is excited about the opportunity to coach her former team.
“I cannot even describe how it feels to be able to coach this team,” said Dibble. “Since the first year the program started when I was in eighth grade, I have had some involvement in Lumpkin County Volleyball, whether as a player or a coach. This is not just a group of girls that I get to coach, this is a family. While I wish that I could still put on that uniform and take the court with them, I enjoy every second of being a part of this family. As head coach, I hope that I am able to lead them through this season and help them to believe in themselves as much as I believe in them. If they can do that, then the opportunity for success this season is endless.”
The Lady Indians’ slow start began when they traveled to North Forsyth High School to kick off the 2019 season on Thursday, August 8.
Lumpkin found itself pitted against the hosting North Forsyth Lady Raiders in the first of three games they would play on the day.
After tying the first set at 1-1, the Lady Indians watched as the Lady Raiders rattled off eight unanswered points to take a 9-1 advantage. The scoring run forced Dibble to call a timeout to calm her team down and get them refocused.
Dibble’s timeout talk with her players appeared to make a difference, as the Lady Indians stepped back on the court and delivered a more competitive performance for the remainder of the set.
However, despite making some adjustments, Lumpkin was unable to dig itself out of the hole it found itself in and lost the first set by a final score of 25-10.
In the second set, the Lady Indians began to come to life and gave North Forsyth a run for its money with sensational serves and aggressive net play.
Lumpkin battled back from a 6-10 deficit and cut the North Forsyth lead to 22-21 late in the set.
Unfortunately, the Lady Indians were not able to complete the comeback and force a tie-breaking third set and fell to the Lady Raiders 25-22 to loss the game 2-0.
The Lady Indians then took on the Woodland Lady Wolves in the second of their three scheduled games.
“We’ve never seen them before, so just go out and play your game,” said Dibble to her team before the match started. “Play your game, not their game.”
Lumpkin, playing its game, got off to a blistering hot start and scored five unanswered points to open up the first set of the match. However, the Lady Wolves slowly began to chip away at the Lumpkin lead with solid net play and tied the score up at 17-17 late in the set.
Undaunted by the comeback attempt by Woodland, the Lady Indians rebuilt their lead to 22-17 and forced the Lady Wolves to call a timeout. Woodland scored two more points after the timeout, but ultimately lost the set by a final score of 25-19.
The second set proved to be all Lumpkin, as the Lady Indians quickly downed Woodland 25-14 to take the game 2-0.
The Lady Indians finished the day with a heartbreaking game versus the West Hall Lady Spartans.
West Hall found itself down 11-7 midway through the first set, as the Lady Indians dominated the net in the early going of the set.
Lumpkin continued to apply pressure and extended its lead to 24-16 before West Hall made a run to close the gap to 24-22. But, the Lady Indians were able to score the game-winning point to take set one by a final score of 25-22.
The Lady Spartans came back with a vengeance in the second set of the match.
The Lady Indians got off to a slow start in the second set and found themselves down 1-9 early in the set. Despite the slow start, Lumpkin upped the intensity and cut the West Hall lead to 23-22 late in the set. However, the Lady Spartans were able to hold on to win the set by a final score of 25-22.
The second set win for West Hall forced a tie-breaking third set between the two teams.
Lumpkin and West Hall battled it out in the deciding third set, but the Lady Spartans eked out a close 15-13 win to defeat the Lady Indians in heartbreaking fashion.
Despite the 1-2 start to the season at the event, Dibble was pleased with the adjustments that her players made throughout the three-game stretch.
“We did start off slow on the night, but each set we made adjustments and improvements and played at a more competitive pace,” Dibble said. “As a team, we started to work out the kinks and realize what it takes to compete and win against teams like West Hall. So far I have seen strengths in our serving and with being aggressive at the net. We have also been working on trusting each other on the court and knowing the strengths and abilities of our teammates and I think that it shows when they play together and fight for every point like they did in those games.”
The biggest blow to the Lady Indians during the season opener was the loss of Lady Indian Savannah Phines 10 points into the first set of the day.
Phines, one of the team’s starting outside hitters, suffered a broken collar bone during the team’s first set against North Forsyth. The injury will keep Phines sidelined for at least six weeks.
“Not having Savannah on the court will definitely shake things up,” Dibble said. “Savannah is very court smart and always knows what we need to do in order to be successful on the court. She is always the player calling everything and hustling for every ball. The effort she shows every time she takes the court makes it obvious that she wants to play, and without her, our offense and defense will have to readjust and pick up that coverage. Now that she is out for a while, we have some players that will need to step up. The team will miss Savannah taking the court with them, but they have a very supportive teammate on the bench until she heals and gets back in the game.”
Fortunately, Dibble believes that there is plenty of talented players who can fill the spot left by Phines’ injury.
“Luckily, this summer we played a lot of volleyball and the girls have played a lot of different positions with different rotations so we have some options off the bench that should not throw off the team dynamic we have built,” Dibble said.
The Lady Indians finished up the week by taking part in the Queen of the Court Tournament on Saturday, August 10.
Once again the Lady Indians suffered from slow starts during the tournament and dropped their first two games of the tournament to Mt. Bethel Christian and Apalachee High School.
The team picked up the pace during the afternoon session and forced a tie-breaking third set versus Flowery Branch. However, Flowery Branch was able to pull out a close victory in the third set to take the game by a final of 2-1.
Lumpkin saved its best performance at the Queen of the Court Tournament for its final game of the day when the Lady Indians faced off against Grayson High School. The Lady Indians fought for every point during the three-set game and in the end earned their second victory of the season.
The result of the Lady Indians’ opening week of the season was an overall record of 2-6.
“While the record doesn’t show it, we played an amazing day of volleyball and fought hard against some very tough teams,” Dibble said. “The last win against Grayson proved that the team is willing to dig deep and pull out a victory, no matter how hard they have to work for it.”
With the first week of the season now behind the Lady Indians, Dibble knows that if her players can break free of the slow starts that plagued them in their first eight games of the season and play more aggressively, they will be able to make a serious run at the State Playoffs this season.
“In order to make it this season, we have to be able to start strong and finish strong every game,” Dibble said. “Instead of starting out slow, we need to charge the court and take our lead early so we do not have to work our way out of a hole at the end. If we set the pace and play aggressively for each point, we will have a successful season.”
At press time, the Lady Indians were set to square off with Rabun and Stephens counties at Rabun County High School on Tuesday, August 13. No official results were available.
The LCHS varsity volleyball team will get back on the court when they travel to Johnson High School tomorrow, August 15, to face off with Johnson and Chestatee. Lumpkin will play Johnson at 5 p.m. before playing Chestatee at 6 p.m.