THE JEFFERSON volleyball team opened the season Saturday with three victories and delivered a milestone moment for coach Mike Paul in the process.
Paul reached career win no. 300 when the squad downed Lakeview Academy in its second match of the East Hall Spikefest. Win no. 301 followed when his team beat host East Hall.
The Jefferson players awarded Paul a signed ball to commemorate his 300th win.
“It got me kind of emotional,” he said. “I started thinking about all the kids who had been with me for all those years.”
Jefferson (5-1) then added two more victories to that tally Tuesday with wins over Hart County and Jackson County.
Paul has won 126 matches at Jefferson, where he’s served as head coach since 2006. His other 177 victories came between his stints at Campbell, Gainesville and Chestatee high schools.
“That (300 wins) has never been a goal,” Paul said. “It’s nice that it’s happened, but all the credit goes to these kids.”
All and all it was a very good day for Jefferson.
In addition to Paul’s milestone, the Dragons beat Chestatee (25-16, 25-17), Lakeview Academy (25-18, 25-19) and East Hall (25-21, 23-25, 15-13) despite breaking in a lineup made up almost entirely of new starters.
“If someone had come to me July 1 and said, hey, you’re going to finish in the semifinals in the first tournament you play in this year, I would have said OK, that’s great,” Paul said.
Jefferson’s lone loss came in the semi-final round of the gold bracket to West Hall (25-21, 14-25, 12-15), which won 35 matches last year and captured Saturday’s tournament title.
“We had a very good day considering how young and inexperienced we are,” Paul said. “Overall I was very pleased with where we are at this point of the season. Naturally there are things we need to improve upon but it was a good day.”
Senior Sarah Wood, the lone returning starter, led the way for Jefferson with 43 kills, five aces, 10 digs and six blocks.
“Sarah Wood was phenomenal all day — great leadership,” Paul said. “I think she ended up with over 40 kills in four matches and that’s what we need out of her.”
Paul said that Amanda Flowers was a pleasant surprise with 20 kills, four aces and 16 digs. Setters Grace Williamson (10 aces, 37 assists, nine kills, 21 digs and two blocks) and Paige Watson (one ace, 32 assists, one kill and 10 digs) also stepped up in their roles in Jefferson’s new two-setter scheme.
Other statistical leaders were Daniela Franco (one ace, 11 kills, 10 digs and one block), Avery Mixon (two aces and 16 digs), Lindsey Nilsen (five kills and two blocks) and Hannah Oliver (one kill).
Jefferson adds two more wins, moves to 5-1
The Jefferson volleyball team continued its early season surge with Tuesday road wins over a pair of former area foes, Hart County and Jackson County.
The Dragons (5-1) beat the Panthers 25-10, 25-14 and the Bulldogs 25-19 and 25-18 as Jefferson has won five of its first six.
Statistical leaders for the two matches were Sarah Wood (11 kills, two aces), Amanda Flowers (six kills), Grace Williamson (four kills, five aces, 11 assists), Lindsey Nilsen (five kills), Daniela Franco (four kills, 12 aces), Tristen McGarity (one kill, two assists), Hannah Oliver (two kills), Paige Watson (seven assists) and Avery Mixon (five digs).
Jefferson is off until Tuesday when it takes on Monroe Area and Winder-Barrow at Monroe.