Neighbors lock horns on volleyball court
LAGRANGE – It was a short road trip.
The Lafayette Christian School volleyball team boarded the bus on Thursday afternoon, and about two minutes later, it arrived at its destination.
Lafayette Christian opened its season with a road match against next-door neighbor Troup High.
“It’s right next door. They’re close,” Troup coach Jodi Dowden said. “It’s a good night for everybody.”
The night belonged to Troup, which swept the match in three sets, 25-14, 25-9 and 25-18.
“We’re working on team work,” Dowden said. “We’re working on controlling our attacks. That’s kind of what we were focusing on today, and running a quicker offense.”
A rebuilding Lafayette Christian team, meanwhile, hung in there against a veteran Troup team.
Lafayette Christian lost seven seniors from last year’s team, and only one starter returns.
“We were scrappy,” Lafayette Christian head coach Rene Gomez said. “We were outmatched, and I knew that coming in. You have to play good, strong teams to expose some weaknesses, so you can go back and work on them. I was proud of our girls. They fought. It showed what we need to work on, especially on offense. We graduated our three best hitters.”
For Troup, senior Jayde Dowden had a productive night with six aces, 15 assists and four kills.
Bailey Lawson added four aces and 10 assists and coach Dowden said Tori Cason and Madi Jeter “contributed a lot of great passing for us.”
Lauren Sheets and Akhya Mitchell both had multiple kills for Troup.
Troup is preparing for its area schedule down the road, and matches like Thursday’s serve as great preparation for that.
“We still have things to work on,” Dowden said. “It’s early, and we’ve got two months before we’re playing area. So we’ve got eight more weeks to work on it.”
Dowden said her team doesn’t have the height of some of the better teams on its schedule, but there are still ways to succeed.
“We don’t have the height, but we try to do some of the things to compensate for that, which is serve tough, and serve error-free,” Dowden said. “Our goal is always to serve at 90 percent or better. And we usually are very close to that.”
For Lafayette Christian, Gomez said Jenna Bowman rose to the occasion in Thursday’s match.
“She had a lot of digs from the back middle,” Gomez said. “She was reading the defense well and getting her body in position.”
Gomez said Kaitlyn Tucker and Christine Vedrenne both had solid efforts from the service line.
While Bowman, Tucker and Vedrenne have some varsity experience, Gomez said most of the players are new to this level of volleyball.
“The rest of the girls are coming up from the JV. So with that, it’s going to take us a couple of games to go ahead and get in a rhythm,” Gomez said. “But I think we’re going to do well. We did some very good things. And now we just have to get a little more consistent.”
Gomez added that “we just need game experience for a bunch of these girls. I think we’re going to be fine at the end of the year.”
OF NOTE: For more photos from Thursday’s match, check out facebook.com/LDNsports
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports