Playing in Gainesville against both Lakeview and Habersham Central, East Jackson (1-7) started the evening by losing to host Lakeview 25-9, 25-16. Against Habersham Central, the Eagles rebounded from a rough first set and won the second before taking the third in dramatic fashion.
“It was like something clicked with the girls and they realized they could win,” Thomas said.
East Jackson was able to reel off 14 straight points down the stretch behind the serving of Haley Simmons, Thomas said. But the coach added that the victory came from the efforts of many.
“The greatest thing about this match was that everyone contributed,” Thomas said. “We had four hitters score kills, and four players recorded assists. When you can do that, you know that in every rotation you have a chance to score.”
Statistical leaders for East Jackson from the two matches Tuesday were Jill Edmondson (11 assists), Madison Mealor (eight kills, four blocks), Haley Simmons (five kills, three assists, four aces), Rosie Melendez (five kills, three assists, one ace), Rebekah Poponi (two kills, three aces, two assists) and Cate Veggia (two kills).
Thomas said the loss to Lakeview prior to the Habersham win was disappointing not because the team lost, but because it didn’t play well at all.
“We switched our offensive scheme Monday and were still getting used to it in that first match, so that affected our play,” Thomas said. “But even beyond that, we didn’t do a very good job in that match, particularly with our hitting.”
Prior to Tuesday’s excitement, East Jackson lost to East Hall 25-23, 25-13 and West Hall 25-8, 25-19 at home this past Thursday.
Thomas said his team drew two difficult assignments in the losses to the Hall County schools.
“We knew West Hall would be tough — they finished in the Elite 8 last year in AAA,” Thomas said. “We had seen East Hall play during our play date last weekend, so we knew they were much improved from last year.”
Thomas pointed out that his team started well against East Hall and finished well against West Hall.
“We played two good bookend sets — the first against East Hall and the last against West Hall,” he said. “In between we didn't do so well. We've got to be more consistent with our serving, and our serve receive still needs some work. We didn't give ourselves many chances to set up our offense, but the few times we did it worked extremely well.”