JEFFERSON volleyball coach Mike Paul was greeted with an alarming sight Wednesday morning — hours before his team was set to take on Landmark Christian in its first-ever home state tournament match.
“Amanda Daniel comes in on crutches,” Paul said of the Dragons’ standout setter.
There was no need to worry though. Daniel was fine. The team thought it would be fun to play a trick on Paul to relax the mood as Jefferson embarked on such a big match that evening.
“So they pranked me this morning (Wednesday),” Paul said. “So they were really relaxed.”
That laid-back, lively attitude carried over to the evening as Jefferson beat Landmark Christian 25-19, 25-20, 25-13 in front of a noisy home crowd.
“We served really well and they dug up a lot of balls and just really played as good as we could play,” Paul said.
Jefferson (32-9), playing as a no. 2 seed, relied on that strong serving and defense to shutout the much bigger Landmark team.
Game two was very close as the Dragons committed several hitting errors, according to coach Mike Paul, but Jefferson corrected that in game three.
"We talked in the game break about not giving them any free points in the third game," he said.
Jefferson built a double-digit lead the final game and never looked back as it earned its first-ever trip to the state Sweet 16.
“We saw our potential today (Wednesday) I thought,” Paul said.
The Dragons will play Hebron Christian at home Tuesday (Oct. 18) after Hebron defeated Kendrick Wednesday in the first-round. Jefferson is happy to host again, given the energy generated by the home fans during Wednesday’s match — especially the student section. This was exactly the type of home-court advantage that Paul and the team wanted.
“It was nice to have everybody here,” Paul said. “The only thing missing was the band … We’ve got a good group of kids. These senior girls have got a lot of friends. Having those guys (the students) here makes a huge difference.”
Statistical leaders for the match were Cassie Metcalf (one ace, five kills, five digs), Daniel (three aces, two kills, 21 assists, two digs), Taylor Cramsey (five aces, nine kills, one block, one dig), Eden Starnes (one ace, seven kills, two digs), Sarah Wood (four aces, six kills, two assists, one block, one dig) and Savanna Holland (one ace, seven kills, one block).