Highlands varsity volleyball team hit the court energized but lost momentum as things turned for the worse eventually losing to Hiwassee Dam 3-0 in the Conference Championship on Wednesday at Nantahala School.
Highlands Head Coach Katy Postell said that Hiwassee Dam is patient, they sit back and wait for Highlands to make the mistakes, and they made several. She said Highlands hit the ball in the net, out of bounds, missed serves, and shanked their serves.
“Negativity, we came out with a lot of intensity, warm ups kind of got us a little flat, as they were making some errors during them, and then HIDam (Hiwassee) had the serve to start, and they serve the ball extremely well, and we made two passing errors, then four hitting errors, and we never could recover from it. It is a mental game, I am not sure this group of girls thinks they can beat them, I think they want to beat them badly, but they always feel when they get down, that they can’t come back.”
Highlands had two checks in the loss category from Hiwassee from earlier this season and they had every intention of coming out and proving themselves but couldn’t pull it together as a team to take a set.
“They came out to play and it showed,” said Jeslyn Head. “They wanted it more than we did. They were hitting everything they could and we couldn’t defend it. And in return we were pushing it over giving them free balls.”
Hiwassee Dam Head Coach Angie Davis said Hiwassee was ready and pumped for the game, but they had some trouble sealing the deal in the third set.
“That girl’s (Highlands Abby Olvera) serve and some other girls’ serves really gave us some trouble,” said Davis. “But we adjusted well and I said to them you need to put it away before they do it first.”
Postell said the unforced errors really affected the score and Hiwassee was playing as a single unit.
“They (Hiwassee) brought hustle, they moved and picked up every ball, we stood and we watched,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong, we did have some good moments, some great plays, some nice swings and some killer blocks, but it was far too many and the errors in between were far-to great. We just could not play with them, the team we faced yesterday (Wednesday) was a senior heavy team with lots of experience on the court together and in the end they were the better team, they played as a team out there not a few individuals here and few individuals there, they played together, something we can do when we work for it, but last night we just didn’t bring it.”
Hiwassee senior Jaylan Hamby said Highlands brought consistent hard serves and steady hits but they kept their focus as a team to earn the win.
“If we get down on ourselves we don’t do well,” said Hamby. “We took it one play at a time and if you mess up you need to forget about it and get it next time.”
Highlands sophomore Jordan Carrier said the team’s energy was great before the game, but diminished as the scoreboard started getting lopsided.
“We were really pumped up and came in wanting to win,” said Carrier. “But they just don’t make a lot of mistakes.Plus they have hard hits and good serves. At state we have to remember to just have fun.”
Highlands junior Kedra McCall said they faced a tough competitor and they let each other beat themselves.
“Communication was a problem,” said McCall. “We had a lot of intensity in the beginning then lost a couple of points and got scared. There’s a lot of pressure in a game like this and it got to our heads.”
Postell said the State Tournament is up in the air at the moment.
“Well we sit and we wait, they will seed everyone on Sunday, we will know Sunday afternoon when and if we get to go to state, if we get in, it will be Tuesday,” said Postell. “But we have no idea where we end up playing. The seeding process is difficult and we never know what will happen when it is all said and done.”
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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Highlands photo gallery (Hiwassee Dam gallery follows Highlands below)
Hiwassee Dam photo gallery