After a no-show from Eagle Ridge, Rabun Gap was able to defeat Highlands Middle School volleyball team in the Tri-State Middle School Volleyball Championships on Friday in Highlands. The match was tight from the beginning, ending with a final of 2-1 Rabin Gap. Rabun Gap Head Coach Courtney Ledford said the win was hard-fought.
“Most middle school volleyball teams don’t have a good middle hitter, plus their serves were great,” said Ledford. “These girls worked hard all season long and they wanted it.”
Rabun Gap came out hitting in the first set but then Highlands rallied in the second to tie it up in games. The third set came down to seven unanswered points from Blue Ridge by eighth-grader Reese Ward, who went on a serving-spree right from the beginning.
“In the third set that girl (Ward) had a good serve,” said Highlands Head Coach Angela Swain. “But I’m so pleased with the way my girls played. They had a good attitude and a great vibe the whole time.”
Highlands players feel they tried their best and can hold their heads high.
“We kept our energy up, we called the ball, and we kept a positive attitude,” said Highlands eighth-grader Karmen Jenkins. “We played hard. But at the end that serve just killed us.”
Highlands eighth-grader Ashlynn Wilson said Ward’s jump serve is not something normally scene at this level of play.
“Her serve was a varsity serve,” said Wilson. “The fact that Karmen (Jenkins) and Aislynn (Luck) received it is amazing.”
She added that she felt the team had prepared well for tonight’s challenge.
“We played smart, we worked on the tip and pushing at practice and applied that to the game and got a lot of points, just not enough,” she said.
Rabun Gap eighth-graders Claren Spivey and Catherine Rauers both had their fair share of hits in all three games. Spivey said they served well but it wasn’t all about hitting.
“We realized we don’t need to hit every ball that’s set to us,” said Spivey. “We just started tipping in the holes on the court.”
Rauers said the team had to adjust to counter powerful spikes coming from Highlands’ middle-hitter Sydney Figel.
“They brought a lot of hits down the middle,” said Rauers. “But then in the third set we realized they were tipping so we had to find the holes they were hitting and get there.”
Eagle Ridge had a scheduling conflict and could not make the match.
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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Highlands photo gallery (Rabun Gap gallery follows Highlands below)
Rabun Gap photo gallery