By Matthew Brown
MOULTRIE – While the temperatures are not cooling off with the change from September to October, things are always the same inside the Colquitt County High gym for volleyball practice. The goal the Packers had to start the 2019 campaign remained the same Monday with the Region 1-7A playoffs roughly one week away.
What better time for Ron Fowler’s club to make its biggest historical impact, that is winning in a region match for the first time in three seasons. That didn’t happen in three Saturday ‘playdates’ when Colquitt and its three region rivals met for best-of-3 set contests at Camden County, Lowndes and Tift County. But Fowler is sticking to his belief that this is a tight region where anyone can win in any given situation.
And so the preparation is on to take on the No. 1 seed, Camden County, in a match that will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8. At the same time, Lowndes takes on the Blue Devils from Tifton. Winners and losers face each other for state tournament seeding, and of course the region title for the winners.
“We had some good sets, and we had some sets that weren’t that good,” said Fowler about the final regular season meeting with the region foes that Tift County hosted Sept. 21. “We’re still looking to put two sets back to back. The region format will be 3-out-of-5, and we always played 2-out-of-3 in region. That will add another little element.”
The Packers are already winning more games than in any other season. Sometimes they play one match that is best-of-5, other times two teams will provide the opposition, and everyone plays everyone best-of-3. For the first time in program history, Colquitt County did win a set in region play.
“The coaches in the region, we all feel anybody could win it,” said Fowler. “It just depends on who shows up that day and plays their best volleyball. Camden’s been undefeated in this region for years, but they got beat by Tift and Lowndes this year. We’ve taken sets from Lowndes and played Tift close, and when we played Camden they beat us in one set 26-24.
“I truly think anybody can win this tournament.”
So what does Colquitt County need to do to play its best volleyball?
“The key for us is we have to take care of serve-receive,” said Fowler. “Serve-receive the past few weeks has been lacking a little bit on our part. I’ve told the girls since we’ve been here if you can serve and pass on serve-receive, you will win a lot of high school games. I think we’ve done a good job of taking care of the serving part. Our missed serves are way down.”
And there are those times when you find yourself in a long rally, when you think you’ve struck a good hit … only to see it dug out and returned back, and therefore you start over again trying to get that point, maybe a sideout to switch over serve.
“I’m fortunate where I’ve got these girls in the weight room and we’ve upped our conditioning, especially at this time of year,” said Fowler. “Everybody’s kind of tired, been going since June. We just have to do a bit extra to give ourselves a competitive advantage when we play these teams.”