Highlands varsity volleyball team ousted in first round of state tournament

The Lady Highlanders varsity volleyball team faced a behemoth of an opponent in the first round of the 2019 Volleyball State Championship tournament at home on Saturday. Facing off against 26-1 North Stanly, Highlands lost 3-0.

“They had some ineligible players this season and a week ago they were penalized 11 games, which meant they had to forfeit 11 games,” said Highlands Coach Katy Postell. “So, we were very unlucky to draw what is quite possibly the best team in the state, but definitely one of the top seeds.”

Highlands Jordan Carrier kills it against North Stanly on Saturday at home.

But that didn’t shake the Lady Highlanders. The girls went onto the court and gave it their all, said Postell.

“We played them tough,” she said. “It was not an easy game for anyone. They definitely know who Highlands Volleyball is after the trip here.”

From left are Highlands Reese Schmitt and Kedra McCall ready for the serve by North Stanly.

The mood in the locker room after the loss was glum, but not an all-out sob fest.

“There were tears from a few, but it was not sad,” said Postell. “They knew they had just faced Goliath. They were proud of how they fought and walked off the court knowing they had given it their all down to the last point.”

Highlands Anne Marie Moore slams one down against North Stanly on Saturday.

Saturday’s loss marks the end of Postell’s coaching career, and she will soon pass the clipboard on to another.

“Well, it was something I had been on the fence about for a while and this year just made me realize that it was time to let it go,” she said. “I had a good run and I had the fortune to coach some of the best teams Highlands has had, some of the best volleyball players on the Plateau in a very long time.”

Highlands Coach Katy Postell chats with Jeslyn Head during the last game of her coaching career.

Postell added there are several things she’ll miss about being a Highlands coach.

“The girls, the game, and the friendships with the officials and other coaches across the board,” she said. “Growing and learning every day from some great mentors and planning what’s next for the teams. It’s a challenge, it’s a full-time job and I have loved it. I will have a lot more free time to spend with my family and that means so much to me.”

Highlands Julia May Schmitt spikes it against North Stanly.

No word yet on who will be taking over the reins of the Highlands Volleyball Program, but after winning three championships this year at the varsity, junior varsity, and middle school levels, Postell thinks they’re in a good place for the transition.

“I have some ideas of who I think would be wonderful coaches to the teams coming up, but inevitably that’s Coach [Brett] Lamb and Mr. [Brian] Jetter’s decision,” she said. “I am sure whomever they hire will do a fantastic job, 3 championships on all levels this year means the girls teams are primed and ready. They can bring home more banners next season for sure, and with hard work and leadership they can keep climbing and making history.”

Highlands Jeslyn Head passes against North Stanly at home.

Postell’s not going to disappear from the Highlands-athletic scene any time soon as she’s excited to watch games as a fan.

“I could go on and on about how wonderful things are now that I am officially off the clock, I did not wake up today sad that I was no longer a coach, I woke up today excited to be one of their biggest fans last next year,” she said. “I am proud of what I have done and going to be even more proud of how far they continue to grow! It’s been a wild ride and I will miss it.”

From left are Highlands Tessa Wisniewski bumping to set up Ava Schmitt for the kill.

Editor’s Note: Coach Postell has worked with me since I began Plateau Daily News over a year ago. Win or lose, she always answered my questions no matter how annoying I was. Her commitment and dedication to her players were always obvious and she leaves some big shoes to fill in her wake. Katy, you are awesome and you will be missed.

Highlands Kedra McCall kills it against North Stanly.

Highlands Ava Schmitt blocks a spike sending it back to North Stanly-ville.

Highlands Reese Schmitt digs a kill.

Article and Photos by Brian O’Shea
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