JEFFERSON opens play in the state volleyball tournament today (Wednesday) as not your everyday no. 4 seed.
The Dragons won 28 games and maintained a no. 5 ranking in Class AA this year but were relegated to no. 4 seed in a four-team area that includes the likes of top-ranked Wesleyan and second-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian.
“I have to think we’re the best fourth-place team going into the tournament,” coach Mike Paul said.
Jefferson travels to face no. 1 seed Calhoun (27-6) at 6 p.m. in the first round. The Yellow Jackets feature two 6’1” players.
“They’re bigger than us, which everybody is bigger than us,” said Paul, who scouted Calhoun his past Saturday.
The Dragons hope to return to mid-season form after a late-season slump that saw them lose six of their last nine matches. That included a loss to Rabun County in the area tournament that relegated them to the no. 4 seed.
The no. 4 seed put Jefferson in a much more difficult bracket. For starters, the Dragons are playing Calhoun instead of Armurchee. If the Dragons were to advance, they would likely face Lovett in the second round.
“You make your own bed sometimes,” Paul said. “We did that by losing to Rabun County.”
At the same time, Jefferson has plenty of victories to draw upon this season. The Dragons played and beat several larger classification programs this year.
“We’ve got to go in with the attitude that we still are a pretty good team and we’ve got to forget these matches where we stubbed our toe,” he said.
Jefferson will rely heavily on the leadership of senior Sarah Wood, who has started on two state tournament teams. Wood earned all-area honors recently along with sophomore setter Grace Williamson. The Dragons will also look to their other senior, Amanda Flowers.
“Those two (Wood and Flowers) are going to have to play well,” Paul said. “We’re going to have to have a big game out of everybody but especially those two.”
Now Jefferson gets the chance that they’re the best no. 4 seed in the tournament.
“We are going to have to play well if we want to beat Calhoun,” Paul said. “They’re going to be tough, especially at their own place. It’s not supposed to be easy but it’s not supposed to be easy at the state tournament.”