DASHER—All good things come to an end.
The Georgia Christian Lady Generals’ volleyball season is another great example of that.
After a season that was supposed to be a rebuild, the Lady Generals made a deep playoff run but ultimately came up short of the state championship.
The Lady Generals and Coach Carrie Johnson had an impressive ride in 2020. A ride that saw their first 10-win season, their first season above .500, and their first season as the region champions.
Not bad at all for a rebuild.
In the playoffs, the Lady Generals faced a tough Veritas team that was strong on the floor. Winning the first match to go up 1-0, the Lady Generals needed just one more victory to move to the next round.
But that would have been too easy.
As the Lady Generals would have it, they kept the fans on their toes and lost a close battle in the second match, just to keep things interesting.
But they would go on to close out Veritas in the third match to win the game. This would put the Lady Generals in the Elite-Eight.
“Veritas had a strong team,” Johnson said. “I feel like we played well in that game. We were prepared for them. I was proud of how we responded and played in that game.”
Next came Alleluia. The Lady Generals would need to win three of five matches to win, but just fell short.
“I was pleased with how we played,” Johnson said. “Alleluia is a very well-coached team; they are very smart in what they do. We played well against that team. I am very pleased with how we responded. The girls felt sad after the loss but not for themselves, they wanted to keep it going for their leader, senior captain Jenna Sykes. I understood where they were coming from but I reminded them that they had accomplished things that have never been done before. We have reasons to celebrate and be proud this season.”
Selfless leadership from the Lady Generals.
Sykes will be thoroughly missed. The lone senior on the team has certainly seen her fair share of up’s and down’s in her career but she stuck it out and ended up leading her team to a playoff berth and a great run on the season.
Sykes is the middle hitter for the team. She led the team in most statistical categories, including kills and blocks. What will be hardest to replace is her leadership.
“Sykes has been great for us,” Johnson added. “She is the unquestioned leader. We have other players that are good on the floor, but leadership is something that lasts forever. She certainly has left her mark in that regard.”
The Lady Generals will look to Samantha Johnson, Coach Johnson’s daughter, to step up as the team leader next season.
“Samantha and Jenna both played club ball together,” Johnson said. “They both were able to gain that experience with school ball and club ball. I think it is important to get those reps to play both. We are fortunate to return Samantha next fall.”
“From a pure coaching standpoint, this has by been Samantha’s best year, by far. She is our Setter and she has really stepped up for us. She has matured a lot.”
Johnson will return for her senior year, along with three other juniors to round out the 2021 senior group.
Also returning will be Katie Moss, who was big for the Lady generals this season.
“Moss is our fireball,” Johnson said. “She really gets us going; she gets the entire team going. She brings a lot of intensity to the floor. She hist the ball hard and that always excites the team and the crowd. She is a great returning player.”
Also returning is Maddie Mira, the lone middle school player that saw time with the varsity. The eighth grader looks to have an increased role in 2021.
“Maddie is one that I am excited about,” Johnson said. “She has played really well all year. I am excited about her future and the next four years of coaching her.”
The 2020 campaign is now in the books and it has been by far the best season that the Lady Generals have ever seen.
Despite losing their senior leader, Sykes, the Lady Generals return many of their starters, in addition to a good group of middle school Lady Generals that finished second on the year.
“I think that 2021 will be a good year for us,” Johnson said. “I know that it will be hard to replace Jenna, for sure. She will be sorely missed. But I feel like we will do well. We return Samantha who can step in as that leader. We have a great group coming up. We just have to nurture and groom them and we can have a great year.”
The 2021 campaign will have big shoes to fill. But with head coach Carrie Johnson at the helms, the Lady Generals will likely make another deep playoff run.