VALDOSTA –– A proper sendoff.

On a night where they celebrated their seniors, Valdosta High volleyball picked up much-needed victories against Highland Christian and Colquitt County Thursday night.

Valdosta defeats Colquitt (26-24, 25-15)

Senior Shamiyah Bethay sealed a tense straight set win against Colquitt in the nightcap. With the final set tied 24-all, Bethay smartly leveraged the ball past the Colquitt defense twice to win the match for the Wildcats, 26-24.

The ‘Cats overcame a 6-1 deficit in the second set to win. The Packers couldn’t hold in the first set either, jumping out to a 4-0 lead and 7-4 on a missed spike by Valdosta senior Dorothy Joseph. Breakdowns in communication by the Packers provided the ‘Cats an opening as Valdosta surged ahead to take a 15-13 lead and forcing a Colquitt County timeout.

Soon thereafter, Valdosta sophomore Keona Martin notched a kill to put her team firmly in front 23-14. Valdosta went on to take the first set, 25-15.

Bethay starred against Colquitt, notching seven kills and five digs. Junior Alivia Fennell had 11 assists, two aces, a kill and 10 digs in the match while junior Isa Kassum recorded 20 digs. Joseph and Martin each notched two kills, with Mason Holtzclaw serving up two aces.

“I’m proud of the seniors stepping up,” Valdosta head coach Anna McCall said. “I think in the beginning, just because it was Senior Night, I think there were some nerves. We got it done by not giving up and playing every ball and putting the pressure on. We slowly found a rhythm and that’s what put us over the top. We’re 4-0 this week and that’s a good thing.”

Valdosta defeats Highland (14-25, 25-14, 15-7)

In the opener, Valdosta took down Highland Christian in a three-set match.

Bethay led the ‘Cats with eight kills. Fennell had four aces, 15 assists and seven digs in the match while Kassum added three aces, three assists and a team-best 27 digs. Holtzclaw and Jospeh each added five kills and Terri Pizzaro recorded 17 digs in the win.

“I think our serves were good,” McCall said. “The passes were good. We’re still working on our offense, which is kind of a weakness right now, but if we keep serving well and we keep passing well, I think eventually that will spill over into offense.”

SENIORS HONORED

Following their match against Highland Christian, Valdosta High seniors Shamiyah Bethay, Dorothy Joseph and Terri Pizzaro were honored with gift bags and a presentation of their accolades in a ceremony.

McCall talked about what these seniors have meant to her over the past four years.

“This is only our second year that we’ve had players that have played all four years,” McCall said of her three seniors. “This group, some of them started in middle school. Obviously, every time a senior leaves, there’s a big gap left and somebody’s got to fill. These girls –– they work hard, they’re good kids and I really enjoy being around them. They’re funny, but they’re smart. They take things seriously and they’re not afraid of working hard.”

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