Before the Glynn Academy volleyball team competed in the Region 2-6A tournament last weekend in Richmond Hill, Lady Terrors coach Jon Ricketts “sequestered” his team. No cellphones were allowed as the team walked to grab something to eat and spend some time together.
“We just kind of bonded and that bonding is important,” Ricketts said. “The biggest thing is to make the girls believe in each other. At no point is any role less important than another role. Just might not start but when I put you in there, what you do affects the outcome of the game. We want them to trust each other and to get along with each other because we’ve got a common goal.”
The bonding experience, along with a daunting schedule, helped get Glynn prepared for the region tournament. A win over Richmond Hill and two victories over No. 1 seed Effingham County earned the Lady Terrors a region title and a No. 1 seed for the Class 6A state playoffs.
Glynn begins their playoff journey today when it hosts Mt. Zion-Jonesboro, the No. 4 seed out Region 4, at 4:30 p.m. today at Glynn Academy.
The Lady Terrors will be hoping for a better result that 2016, when they lost in the first round to Gainesville at home.
“You definitely have to have mental toughness,” Ricketts said. “Even though we’re lucky enough to host the first two (rounds) if we go that far, sometimes a No. 4 seed from Atlanta is better than a No. 1 seed around here. We have to be mentally tough and be prepared. You’ve got to be 100 percent ready because from here on, there is no tomorrow.”
“We have to play like a No. 1 seed. We have to show them we don’t want them coming in and ousting us in the first round like last year.”
That mental toughness is something Glynn has built up during the season by playing tough competition outside of region play. The Lady Terrors competed in tournaments in Savannah, Jacksonville and Hilton Head, S.C., along with matches against defending state champions like Calvary Day and St. Vincent’s Academy.
Grinding through such a tough slate paid off when they had to dig deep for a 31-29 win in the final set against Effingham County to reach the region championship game.
“I explained to the girls before we played for the region championship, they deserved to win it because we’ve been through a lot this year,” Ricketts said. “I think everything we did made them mentally tougher throughout and they sustained that toughness throughout the championship game. I know we’re a tougher team mentally right now than we were even two weeks ago.”
Part of the reason for Glynn’s success in the region tournament was the work of its defense. Three players totaled more than 30 digs in their first win over Effingham. The Lady Terrors also had three players tally more than 20 digs in a 3-0 sweep of Effingham to claim the region title.
“Our defensive specialist are the ones that were so up-and-down for us all year,” Ricketts said. “If they played well, we played well. If they did not play well, we had a long night.”
When the defense started to waver, Ricketts used his timeouts to reassure his specialists and make sure everybody was on the same page.
“I assured them they were out there for a reason and we needed them to do their job so the other players could do their job and they came through,” Ricketts said.