Both the Highlands girls’ varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams started the season with a tough loss against Hayesville on Monday. Varsity lost 3 games to 0 and JV lost 2 games to 0.
Before the match, Coach Katy Postell said that Hayesville will likely be the toughest team Highlands faces this year.
“Hayesville is consistently one of the best teams in the state, they have a great coach, who has been a mentor to me since I got started coaching, and she knows the game as good as anyone I have ever met,” said Postell. “She has girls that want to play for her, and they play hard, she is smart, so she adjusts them to whatever their opponents throw at them.”
While the Hayesville games did not go as planned, Postell said she has every confidence in her teams’ abilities this season.
“They have confidence in themselves and faith in their teammates,” said Postell. “I feel that this team could do things on the court that the teams in the past have been building up to, we are talented, so talented, and they work hard, I can’t say enough about the work ethic of all 22 girls on JV and varsity.”
She added that the JV team has several new players, including some who have never played volleyball before.
“They have improved since day one in leaps and bounds,” said Postell. “They definitely are starting to become their own team, and when they scrimmage the varsity, they are not scared of them, they are eager to face them and they are doing exceptionally well.”
Before the season began both teams practiced regularly and visited The Mountain Retreat. Postell has brought several teams here over the years that began as a trust building exercise.
“What started as building trust, now we put them in high pressure situations and they learn to deal with what to do when things don’t go according to plan,” said Postell. “That way, when it happens on the court they won’t fall apart.”
Last year varsity finished with a record of 12-10 in regular season play, JV finished 7-13. Postell added that varsity had the first winning season in several years and that JV closed the season with some big wins against teams they struggled against earlier in the season.
Senior Hannah Holt said being part of a team in Highlands creates a strong sense of unity.
“I get to play against people I love every day, it’s so much fun,” said Holt. “I have high hopes this season. I’ve been playing with these girls all four years and watched them grow. This is going to be a great year.”
Senior Abby Olvera has also played all four years and agreed with Holt about the sense of unity.
“Your teammates basically become your family,” said Olvera. “We get new girls but we’re always family. This year I think we’re going to do very well. Everybody’s always improving every day.”
Another 4-year-verteran of the team is senior Tristan Castro who said Highlands School has a strong volleyball program.
“Everyone takes it seriously and it’s fun to play with people who love the sport,” said Castro.
JV Captain and sophomore Alyson Dayton practices with the varsity squad and brings that experience back with her.
“I learn from the older girls and then bring that back to the JV team,” said Dayton. “Practicing with them helps me be a better leader. I think this season is going to go great.”
Sophomore Anne Marie Moore joined the team last year because her parents made her but has grown to love the sport and is optimistic about the season.
“I’m really excited,” said Moore. “I’m hoping we can really do good. We have a lot of new players so we’ll see what we can do.”
Postell said both teams are exciting to watch and encourages everyone to come out and see them play.
“I am so excited to see what they do when they are faced with some adversity, they truly have what it takes to be a dominant force,” said Postell. “They do not give up, they are relentless on the court. As a coach, their hard work and determination make my job easy. They are truly a special group of young ladies.”
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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