EAST JACKSON wrapped up a 6-25 campaign on the volleyball court and now begins the process of looking toward next season.
The Eagles fell to North Oconee 2-0 Thursday and Morgan County 2-0 Saturday in the Area 6-AAA tournament to finish out the season. East Jackson coach Tim Thomas said he knew there would be obstacles this fall.
“With the number of athletes we graduated last year — five — and only two returning varsity players, we knew it was going to be a tough season,” he said. “Our two returning players — Madison Mealor, Rosie Melendez — were consistent throughout the season, as we knew they would be.”
Mealor ended up as a second-team all-area selection.
“We’re real proud of her for that honor,” Thomas said. “It was well deserved, and apparently the other coaches in the area agreed.”
Thomas said others rose to the challenge of playing varsity volleyball this season.
“Josephine Melendez was probably the most improved of the group that came up, and Reagan Robach and Marion Mealor both made a lot of progress during the season too,” he said.
Thomas, however, said the junior varsity program produced the highlight of the year, which bodes well for the future. The JV Eagles went 12-7, earning the school’s first winning season in any level of volleyball.
“Coach Rainwater did an excellent job with them,” Thomas said. “That’s a really good group of girls, and they’re going to make it pretty hard to decide who should be on that varsity team next year.”
Thomas pointed to players like freshman Emi Melendez.
“She’s going to make a really strong case for being there, especially if she plays club ball again this year,” Thomas said. “We’ve also got a large group of rising juniors along with a couple of current freshmen who were pretty impressive who will all be trying out for a varsity position. So it’s going to be tough to determine who gets a spot and who doesn’t.”
East Jackson has also started a middle school program to help the program have experienced players entering ninth grade.
“Starting a middle school program was also a big deal for us this year,” Thomas said. “Coach David had about a dozen girls who came to her skills development practices on a regular basis, so next year for the first time East Jackson will have a substantial number of ninth graders coming in with some volleyball experience. Hopefully next year that middle school program will have a competitive schedule and then they should really make some headway.”