Volleyball is back as the first games of varsity are getting underway in Gordon County. For the Gordon Central Lady Warriors, they begin their second season under head coach Alicen Pearson.
Pearson, a former volleyball player and graduate of Berry College, said the sport is a relative newcomer to the area, in comparison to Atlanta and south Georgia.
“First, I wanted to show the girls the basics and get down the fundamentals,” Pearson said. “After showing them that last year, I feel like I can build on it this year because I have a lot returning.”
This year, the Lady Warriors’ roster features 11 girls on varsity. Seven of the 11 girls are seniors.
“I do feel like (the seniors) have established their leadership on the team,” Pearson said. “It makes it harder for me because they do have the experience. For volleyball, there’s only six on the court, … so it’s hard for me, but I feel like it pushes because they know not all of them can start, and then my underclassmen are right there pushing them to be better.”
Pearson said this year’s team is particularly close, and the girls are very encouraging of one another.
“They all really get along together,” Pearson said. “They just seem very excited about this season. I feel like I can use that to their advantage to push them to do even better than they did last year.”
Pearson said the Lady Warriors have most improved in offensive categories, noting consistent serves and strengthened hitting across the lineup.
“Whether that’s their position or not, I’m really big on making sure everyone can do every skill,” Pearson said. “I feel like, offensively, we’re a lot stronger than we were last year.”
While offensive prowess is heightened from 2018, Pearson said defense is an area where she is looking for the most improvement.
“Of those seniors I graduated last year … two of them were my defensive specialists, so finding a replacement is what I’m still looking for,” Pearson said. “I have a couple that have been rotated in and out few in and out, but I haven’t decided who’s going to be that key defensive player. I’m trying to get everyone to learn that skill, but that’s where we need to improve and I need … several people to step up and be that defensive leader.”
Pearson said her roster features a lot more height, and this has her very excited for the 2019 season.
“Last year, I’d say across the board, I would say we were pretty short and volleyball is one of those sports that height is helpful,” Pearson said. “This year, I feel like even with the freshmen coming in, they’re closer and closer to 6 foot. I have at least three (girls) that are 5’10” or taller and that’s helpful just in the fact that, if they’re tall, I can usually put them somewhere and they can get the ball.”
Looking at the schedule, Pearson said the Lady Warriors have a lot more home matches in 2019. Gordon Central will host on six dates including five in the month of September.
“I’m excited to be playing more here on our turf,” Pearson said. “I think that helps because, when we played the couple of homes games last year, it seemed to have more energy.”
Pearson’s coaching career has seen tenures at Cass High School in Bartow County, then to her hometown of Tyrone at Sandy Creek High School and Flat Rock Middle School, before moving to Gordon County. Over the course of her coaching career, Pearson said the No. 1 thing she’s learned to emphasize is mentality.
“From Cass to Sandy Creek to here, if they don’t have the mindset they can do it, they’re not going to go very far at all,” Pearson said. “I’m really excited that, this year, they seem to have that mindset ready so then I can push the fundamentals after that.”
The Lady Warriors begin their volleyball season on Aug. 9 at Sonoraville High School. Gordon Central’s home opener is Aug. 13, when Dade County and Woodland make the journey to Gordon County.