Troup ready for state challenge
LAGRANGE – They’ve been here before.
During Jodi Dowden’s tenure as the head coach of the Troup volleyball team, the Lady Tigers have been to the state tournament four times.
During the first three state appearances, Troup was a number four seed, and it was beaten in the first round.
Today, Dowden’s Lady Tigers will be back at state, and they’re hoping the result will be a different one this time around.
Troup, which finished third in Area 5-AAAA, will visit Area 7-AAAA runner-up Burke County, with the winner advancing to the round of 16.
It has been a successful season for Troup, which features a senior-dominated lineup.
Troup finished second in the regular season in the area, and it beat Cedartown in the first round of the area tournament before falling to Cartersville in the semifinals.
Troup gives up some size at the net in most of its matches, but it makes up for that in other areas.
Troup is a tremendous defensive team, and it runs an offense that takes advantage of the years of experience the players have together.
“We run an offensive system that is very coordinated. Everybody has a certain place they go to draw blocks, and to fake,” Dowden said. “This group has worked really hard to run an offensive system at a higher level than we’ve ever run. We’re better than we’ve ever been.”
It helps that there are eight seniors on the team, most of whom have been playing together since they were in middle school.
Two of those seniors joined the team as sophomores, and the other six began playing together as students at Long Cane Middle School.
The eight seniors are Jayde Dowden, Lauren Sheets, Madi Jeter, Akhya Mitchell, Akhea Mitchell, Savannah Laney, Tori Cason and Bailey Lawson
“It makes it worthwhile to have a group that works hard, and they’re always here,” Dowden said. “Whatever I ask them, they’re always like yeah coach. They really work together well as a team.”
Jeter said the chemistry and the connection the players make a big difference during matches.
“Playing together that long, and knowing each other that well, makes you know what the next person is going to do,” Dowden said. “We kind of know what each other is thinking. We can kind of read each other’s minds, and know how each other works. It helps knowing each other that well.”
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports