Lady Bobcats make BREC history with state playoff win

The Blue Ridge Early Bobcats varsity girls volleyball team won their first round of the state playoffs on Tuesday with a win against Uwharrie Charter Academy, 3-0.

BREC lost round 2 against Bishop McGuinness on Thursday 3-0, but it was the first time in Blue Ridge history a volleyball team has made it to the second round of the state playoffs.

BREC girls varsity volleyball team after winning the first round of the state playoffs and making Blue Ridge history. From left are Coach Carlton Fowler, Charlotte Sherrill, Mahalah Stewart, Elle Day, Holly Foss, Chloe Fowler, Vanessa Russell, Gracie Watson, Maddy Potts, and Coach Cindy Fowler.

The win didn’t come easy and BREC Coach Carlton Fowler said Uwharrie made the Lady Bobcats earn it.

“Uwharrie is a tremendous team, a powerhouse in the state,” said Fowler. “This is a great accomplishment for the girls and we knew it would take a supreme effort to beat them. To take them in three sets shows how hard these girls have worked.”

BREC Mahalah Stewart digs a Uwharrie kill.

BREC knocked down the first two sets with authority, but then hit a speed bump in the third set at one point trailing 17-10.

“We had the mindset that we wanted to beat them in the third set, and then got down on ourselves when they took a big lead,” said BREC Mahalah Stewart. “We took a timeout to get our heads straight and then came out and won it.”

BREC Holly Foss gets set to return a Uwharrie serve.

BREC Holly Foss said she was proud of their third set comeback.

“They started getting up there and we lost our momentum,” said Foss. “But we just had to get out of our heads and know we can come back from that. I’m proud of us. We came in knowing we could achieve it and we did.”

The Lady Bobcats won the first two sets by 10 or more points, but only took the third set 25-23.

“We got full of ourselves,” said BREC Gracie Watson. “We got cocky, it happens when we kill the first two sets. We thought we had the third in the bag. Once they took the lead it was tough to get out of our heads to come back.”

BREC Gracie Watson slams the ball down on the Uwharrie side of the net.

Fowler said making it to the second round of state playoffs was a great opportunity and accomplishment; and is a testament to how talented the Lady Bobcats are. However, Thursday’s match against Bishop McGuinness was more than they could handle.

“We played well, I think we were a little shell shocked, they were a really good team and they had a couple of amazing hitters that kept us from getting into our offense like we are normally do successfully, but the lady’s battled until the end,” said Fowler.

BREC Maddy Potts serves Uwharrie and takes position on the court.

This has been a historic season for the Lady Bobcats, including the first-ever win over county rivals 2A Smoky Mountain, having the first ever undefeated regular season 10-0, and being the first volleyball team to win a match in the state playoffs.

Toss in a Conference Championship, 3 wins over rival Highlands, and wins against Big Smokey powerhouses Cherokee and Swain, and Fowler said you run out of adjectives to describe this team.

BREC Chloe Fowler sets the ball in the first round of state playoffs.

“It has been an honor to be able to coach this group of ladies, their work ethic and teamwork is a coach’s dream,” said Carlton. “We are losing 4 seniors this year, but we have enjoyed tremendous success with a 2 year record of 31-6. I would like to say a special thank you to all the ladies for letting Coach Cindy (Fowler) and myself ride your coat tails on an amazing ride.”

BREC Charlotte Sherrill kills it against Uwharrie.

BREC Mahalah Stewart returns a Uwharrie serve.

BREC Holly Foss spikes the ball against Uwharrie.

BREC Charlotte Sherrill and Chloe Fowler ready to take position after Uwharrie serves.

BREC Maddy Potts hits the ball over to Uwharrie.

BREC Coach Carlton Fowler strategizing during a timeout against Uwharrie.

From left on the court are BREC Chloe Fowler, Holly Foss, and Gracie Watson waiting for the serve.

BREC Mahalah Stewart makes a pass against Uwharrie.

BREC Holly Foss serves Uwharrie.

BREC Charlotte Sherrill passes the ball against Uwharrie.

A rare set by BREC Maddy Potts.

BREC Charlotte Sherrill throws up a block.

From left are BREC Mahalah Stewart and Chloe Fowler wondering if Uwharrie is going to return the ball or not.

Lady Bobcat shenanigans.

Spirits were high after the Lady Bobcats made school history and won the first round of the state playoffs.

BREC Charlotte Sherrill celebrates with a fan after the game.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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