Gatlinburg-Pittman's volleyball team has plenty of weapons
The Gatlinburg-Pittman offense just kept coming and coming.
When the dust settled, 33 kills had left Pigeon Forge wondering what it could’ve done in the face of that onslaught.
“Oh my gosh, it could be intimidating because they hit hard,” said the Tigers’ Sarah Hill. “It just makes it that much harder to hit it back.”
Hill had eight kills for the Tigers, a figure matched by three different Highlanders in G-P’s 25-18, 25-11, 25-14 win. Julia Maloney had 10 kills while Megan Jackson and Bethany Sutton had eight kills each for G-P (4-0).
Height is a big component of that lethal offense. Jackson is 6-foot-2, Dannie Luczak is about 6-foot, and Maloney stands about 5-foot-10. Coach Conchita Johnson also has two freshmen over six feet.
But height doesn’t automatically translate into wins or even kills. The Highlanders are not only tall, but they’re communicating well on the court.
“(Communication) is the most important thing in the game. For sure,” Maloney said. “In practice we always try to talk and imagine ourselves in the game situation. We always work on that. So we try to do that in a game.”
G-P was in sync, from the dig to the set to the eventual spike. That fluid passing allowed easy transitions from a Pigeon Forge kill attempt to a Highlander spike. Johnson said getting that communication down was a priority entering this season.
“Not all of them play volleyball year-round,” Johnson said. “So when they first come in they don’t realize how much communication is important — to know where you’re going on the floor. We’ve got a couple girls that play year-round. So we have to get those girls communicating to help us know where to go, where to be. We’re getting better but we’re not there yet.”
Tigers coach Carrie Bailey said Tuesday’s loss helped show her team how important communication is.
Pigeon Forge had its most success when it was able to orchestrate blocks and stretch points into long rallies.
Too often, though, the Tigers weren’t able to run the kind of smooth offensive sets Gatlinburg-Pittman put together. Instead of a spike, soft, free balls went over the net, nicely feeding the Highlanders’ attack. It was too much for Pigeon Forge.
“In volleyball it’s all an emotional game, so I think the girls get down really easy on it,” Bailey said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get their spirits back up. That’s just one thing they’re going to have to learn. You can’t get down on yourself no matter what the score is.”