Undercut from the beginning by tragedy and injury, the 2019 Savannah State volleyball team accomplished much more than anyone anticipated this season.
The Lady Tigers, in their first year of competition within the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC), earned six conference wins, enough to make the SIAC Championship as the No. 4 seed from the East Division.
They finish 9-18 overall this year, an improvement on last year’s 3-21 record.
Fired up and ready for a new season with a new coach—first year Interim Head Coach Roselidah Obunaga—the Lady Tigers faced tragedy before they could even get the first serve off.
The first game of the season was delayed due to Hurricane Dorian in early September. During the evacuation, junior hitter Karissa Tatum and senior libero Liz Ortiz were evacuating when the car they were in hydroplaned and crashed. Tatum later passed away at Memorial Hospital. Oritz was rendered ineligible to play for the season due to her injuries from the accident.
On Sept. 17, the team were finally able to open the regular season. They decided to honor Tatum by leaving her jersey on an empty seat throughout the season.
In one of their final home games, the team along with Director of Athletics Opio Mashariki and Savannah State Interim President Kimberly Ballard-Washington presented a framed jersey to Tatum’s parents and family in a pre-game ceremony, citing that “Tatum will always be a part of the Savannah State family.”
During the 2019 SIAC Championship, and throughout the season, Scott and teammates wrote “Do It For KG” on the inside of their sneakers in honor of their teammate.
Despite the roadblocks and playing against teams with full rosters, the Lady Tigers made a statement on the court this season with big conference wins and late game rallies, improving on the three-win record from last season.