The excitement was high as Highlands junior varsity volleyball team faced off against Hiwassee Dam in the Conference Championships at Nantahala School on Wednesday. The Lady Highlanders came out strong and stayed consistent defeating the Lady Eagles 2-0.
This is the first championship win as a head coach for Katy Postell. Over the past several years there has not been a tournament, and it’s also her first win against any team from Hiwassee Dam.
“It felt great to see the JV girls really believe they could win against them and that is a good start in preparation for next season,” said Postell. “Even thouogh the Varsity did not win, I am so proud of those JV players, and so happy for them, their happiness was worth every penny. That to me is what coaching is about, seeing them happy, seeing their love and passion grow.”
Highlands sophomore Marley Ubertino said they prepared for yesterday’s game by practicing the bump, set, and spike while keeping the ball low to minimize interference from the low ceiling in Nantahala’s gym.
“We just came out with a lot of energy and we really wanted it,” said Ubertino. “We’ve never won anything like this before, and most of our JV is playing in their first year. We’re just going to come out and kill it next year.”
Postell said her JV crew put the ball in play, didn’t let the errors bother them, they passed Hiwassee’s serves, they had a hard time passing Highlands’ serves.
“We have served well all season but they were on point last night, my girls really brought it, they came out on fire, and our Varsity girls sitting behind them cheering hard the whole time really pushed them over the top,” she said.
Hiwassee Dam freshman Sydney Payne said they normally come out more energized than today’s performance.
“We’re normally pretty good, but today we didn’t work as a team or call the ball,” said Payne.
Highlands freshman Brandy Zagal said they covered well, had good blocking, and set up great hits.
“Overall it was good,” said Zagal. “We never got down on ourselves and that helped a lot. When we do things get bad.”
Postell said Wednesday’s games respresented what her JV girls have been working towards all season.
“They worked amazingly together, they have at times this year really showed what team work was, but last night, they literally blew the roof off,” said Postell. “They moved as one family, they got down in the first set, but never once gave up. They finally put together the game I knew they could, they got up in the second set, and never once let off the gas, they just kept pushing and they played a very smart ball game.”
Highlands freshman Emma Minton said this is a big win and it feels good defeat such a good team. Highlands lost to Hiwassee twice earlier this season.
“I was kind of nervous because they are tough competition,” said Minton. “But that didn’t stop us from coming out and keeping up our momentum out on the court. Normally they beat us but we stepped up and beat them, it feels good to win.”
Overall Postell said she could not be prouder of her JV girls this season.
“I am over the top happy about how they played, they never really had any issues this season,” said Postell. “They worked pretty consistently as a unit on the court, we found a rotation that worked about mid-way thru the season, and I stuck with it, it was nice to have that consistency, and for them to get used to playing with each other. There are some really bright stars on that team, which will be a nice addition to the Varsity next year and even more that will be great JV leaders next year.”
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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