AA

Athens Academy senior Ali Rumpel hits a shot during the Spartans' win over Morgan County High School on Saturday.

The first sprint of the 2020 volleyball season has been a peaceful frolic for Athens Academy. The Spartans have raced to a 14-1 start.

The 2020 volleyball season is only two and a half weeks old. The Spartans have done a lot of playing and a lot of winning.

How have they done both?

First, they’ve stacked up their games on the weekends. Before Saturday, the Spartans played four matches on Aug. 15 in Dacula High School’s playdate.

This Saturday, the Spartans played host to a playdate of their own. Athens Academy rolled in the Athens Academy Invitational.

The Spartans won three matches on Saturday. They defeated Winder-Barrow High School (25-14, 25-15) in their second match. Peyton Wheeler and Mary Miller led the Spartans with five kills apiece.

They closed the day by defeating Clarke Central High School (25-5, 25-10). Wheeler led with four kills in the match.

The Spartans’ first match of the day was the one that drew the most excitement wails and yelps. The Spartans played a thriller with Morgan County High School in their second match of the day.

They held on to defeat the Bulldogs (26-24, 25-21). Senior Ali Rumpel had seven kills, which was the highest total of the day. The early deficit the Spartans faced acted as a bit of an activator. The Spartans have been dominant early in the season. Playing challenging competition is priceless for the Spartans at this point in the season. The Spartans only had four days of practice prior to their first scrimmage. Despite their 14-1 record, the Spartans are still figuring things out on the court.

“I think they started to figure some things out,” Athens Academy head coach Jane Thomas said. “Morgan County was a good opponent. I think they were able to understand what their (MCHS) tendencies were and we sort of got that a little figured out.”

The Spartans defeated the Bulldogs again on Tuesday (25-22, 25-9). Thomas has been afforded the luxury of working her entire roster into games with the early run away wins the Spartans have had. Thomas only has nine players on the varsity to begin with, but every one of the Spartans’ players have had an opportunity to contribute so far this season.

“We were able to get everyone playing time, which is awesome,” Thomas said. “We have a small team. All week long everyone gets a lot of court time whether its in practice or in a match. We try to do our best to get everyone some experience.”

While the kinks are still being worked out on the court, the Spartans have already hit their stride in team chemistry. There are a few new faces from last season’s team.

For the most part, the Spartans have played a lot of volleyball together. The Spartans like one another. That’s seen as a positive trait. The Spartans’ chuckles can be heard over the music blaring during a practice or pre game.

“I think we all mesh really well together,” Wheeler said. “We all connect, we’re all talking on the court. I feel like we get along really well. We’ve all adapted to each other, which I’m really excited about. We’re closer than we were in the past years. That’s what helps us communicate.”

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