Cohen leads Colquitt County volleyball to 2-0 start

Aug. 13—MOULTRIE — When the Colquitt County volleyball team defeated Bainbridge’s Grace Christian Academy and Lee County last Thursday to open the season with a 2-0 record, it also got Jessica Cohen’s coaching career off to an auspicious start.

The Lady Packers swept both the Lady Cougars 25-19 and 25-21 and the Lady Trojans 25-18 and 25-13 on the William Bryant Court in Cohen’s coaching debut.

Last year, she was a senior playing her fourth season on Kennesaw State’s volleyball team after performing at Etowah High School.

The Colquitt County program, now in its sixth year, has never experienced a winning record, although last season, the Lady Packers were 13-14 under coach Julia Okongwu.

Colquitt County athletic director Cleve Edwards said he believes, despite Cohen’s lack of experience, that she can make a difference in the program.

“We are getting a really, really top-notch coach,” Edwards said. “She has got a wealth of knowledge and she has hit the ground running.

“North Georgia got a head start (in high school volleyball), but this hire is going to help us catch up even quicker. Our community should be excited to have her.”

Cohen inherited a veteran team from Okongwu, who was named the Region 1-7A Coach of the Year after leading the Lady Packers to the most wins in the school’s brief history.

Colquitt County’s young coach said she has “a very special group of girls.”

“I know every coach says that about their team, but truly this group is something different,” Cohen said.

“Every single girl on this team brings something huge to the table and everyone works really well together.”

The 2022 roster includes Takiya Tuff, who was named to the All-Region 1-7A first team last year, and Olivia Davis, who was named to the second team.

The team also includes Ava Dickens, Bri Smith, Claire Slocumb, Wynn Kinsey, Maycee Lowery, Natalie Bryan, Jessie Eunice, Jaina Turner and Kate Summerlin.

Dickens, Lowery, Kinsey, Turner and Summerlin are also back from the 2021 team.

Cohen said winning the season-openers was important.

“I told the girls before our games (on Thursday) that the outcome of those games will set the tone for us going into the season,” she said.

“It felt good to get that first win against Grace Christian. They’re a good team and they keep the ball in play really well.”

The win over Lee County, which was 25-18 last season, was even more significant.

“I’m really proud of how we played against Lee County because that game on paper is very intimidating,” Cohen said. “That’s a really good team with a really good coaching staff and we hadn’t ever beaten them before.

“However, that’s in the past and this is a new season. That’s the mindset these girls had going into this game. They saw it as a challenge and didn’t let up.”

The Lady Packers will be back at home on Tuesday, Aug. 16, to play host to Georgia Christian at 5 pm and Thomasville at 7 pm

On Thursday, Aug. 18, Colquitt County will play host to Thomas County Central at 6 pm

“I’m excited for the season and to see how much more they can accomplish,” Cohen said.

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