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Volleyball Blue Devils off to fast start

    The Statesboro Lady Blue Devil volleyball team started the year better than expected, according to head coach Bob Massee.
    SHS (2-0) rallied for a 2-1 win against Trinity and defeated Southeast Bulloch 2-0 Saturday, giving local volleyball fans a glimpse at the talent the team has on the court this year.
    Despite having a few new players in the starting lineup that have never played in varsity action, the Lady Devils seemed to work well together, said Massee.
    In three matches against Trinity, senior Tess Newton led the way with 15 kills in 21 attempts. Not to be outdone by Newton, senior Rachel Wiggins had seven kills in 16 attempts.
    Against SEB, Newton (9) and Wiggins (5) combined for 14 kills.
    As the Devils move forward in the season and attempt to keep their undefeated record intact, here are a few things to know about the season so far:

Devils gelling
    Team chemistry is important with any squad, and so far the Lady Blue Devils are on the right track early.
    After a Monday practice, Massee said how surprised he was to see the team play so well together early.
    “I think as a team it’s fun to watch them just get out there and play and just enjoy the game. The fact that some of them are still learning their positions and playing together for the first time, it’s kind of hard to do,” Massee said. “A few players that were on our JV team last year came up to me and said ‘coach, this is a lot faster than JV.’”

She can play
    Being thrust into the starting lineup is tough enough, but being called upon as just a sophomore with no varsity experience is especially nerve-racking.
    However, Katie Stewart handled her first taste of varsity action with class, and her teammates heralded her efforts.
    Coach Massee said Stewart is essentially the “quarterback” of the team, due to her position as setter, and performed exceedingly well in her first two games.
    Senior Jordan Collins had nothing but positive feedback for the team’s new setter.
    “We all love her and she has a great personality. She’s a great volleyball player and that just makes everything easier,” Collins said. “We’re all just meshing together very well.”
Keep it up
    In the Devils’ first two games of the season, Massee said his team only allowed three or four balls to hit the floor due to miscommunication.
    In the offseason, SHS worked extensively on passing and team communication.
    Collins, the team’s starting libero, said the work of her teammates has helped keep the ball of the floor this year.
    “Me, Tess (Newton) and Rachel (Wiggins), we do a great job of keeping the ball off the floor. It’s all just about movement and where we are on the court. We know that one of us is going to get it,” Collins said.

Home court advantage
    It’s no secret SHS volleyball enjoys playing in front of the home crowd. The Lady Blue Devils have two home games tonight against West Laurens High School and Grovetown.
    Collins said tonight will be a great measuring stick for the Blue Devils.
    As for the players, they’re excited to have the home crowd behind them and hope the student body comes out to support their efforts.
    “We just want people to come to the games. It’s just so much more exciting when we have a large crowd,” Newton said. “We get pumped up and we want people to come out and support us.”
    SHS game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

    Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.