Highlands varsity volleyball team won the Little Smoky Mountain Conference tournament after beating Blue Ridge Early College 3-1 in the championship on Tuesday at Blue Ridge.
Round 1 of the tournament had Highlands versus Nantahala and BREC versus Hiwassee Dam on Monday.
The Lady Highlanders and Bobcats both moved onto the championship the following day, and it was intense. Games were close; both sides were hitting, passing, digging, and it could have gone either way.
Highlands took the first set, BREC won the second, and Highlands took the next two.
“They played with fire, they played to win, they played together,” said Coach Katy Postell. “They made mistakes, but they didn’t let it get them down.”
BREC Coach Cindy Fowler said they had things running smoothly in round 1, but didn’t close the deal in the championship.
“First game against Hi Dam we passed, set, and hit the ball very well resulting in a victory,” said Fowler. “In the championship game against Highlands we struggled some with our passing and hitting. For the second-straight meeting Highlands hit the ball extremely well.”
Both teams had their challenges this season, and both coaches said are incredibly proud of their girls.
“The season has been up and down, both physically and emotionally,” said Postell. “Both JV and Varsity started off slow, but they have finished really strong this season. They have improved on the court together and worked hard to achieve their goals.”
Fowler said it was the most wins for a volleyball team in BREC history with a record of Conference 5-1 and Regular Season 20-3.
“We had a great season, most wins ever by a volleyball team in school history,” said Fowler. “We were expecting great things from our players and they exceeded our expectations. With only one senior leaving, we are expecting to be stronger than ever next year.”
Final season for Highlands Coach Katy Postell
Postell said this is her last season as a Coach in the Lady Highlanders volleyball program.
“Sadly, I am stepping down, so next year I will enjoy coming to watch the girls play,” said Postell. “They have every potential to win it all again. So much talent coming back, and the seniors have given them the leadership they need for the girls to transition smoothly next year. It will be hard not seeing the seniors in the gym and in the court next year, but they have left their legacy, their mark for the teams to follow.”
She added that the support from fans at the tournament was incredible.
“Thanks to our boy’s soccer and nonsoccer teams and the cheerleaders who showed up and showed out last night,” said Postell. “There were so many Highlanders there supporting those girls. Any coach would be proud at how this has ended. It’s a great way for me to wrap up my career. It’s been wonderful coaching all the kids on all the teams I have had, and I am excited to see how they continue their journey next year.”
Editor’s Note: Thank you to all coaches and players who put up with me snapping pics left and right and giving me comments after games win or lose throughout the season. You are awesome and it’s most appreciated!
Highlands versus Nantahala
BREC versus Hiwassee Dam
Article and Photos by Brian O’Shea
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Highlands versus BREC