Nothing screams prepared like serve receive passing, and the Eagles most definitely struggled to pass the tough serve on the #1 Highlanders in set one of the Championship. Coming off such a fabulous victory against Summitt, the Eagles were slow to react to the fast serving pace of Highlands, and quickly fell behind. Set one was in complete control of Highlands in almost every aspect of the game, and the Eagles fell 25-14. The Eagles weren't about to stay complacent, and the momentum quickly turned sour for the Highlanders. Team captain Milli Watts spoke to the team at the break, and the Eagles came out fired up. They quickly dominated the net, passed up tough attacks, and won the free ball control. This let the Eagles jump to a commanding 17-12 lead, and they didn't look back. Several Eagles contributed to a set two win including the stellar play of Stella Vogelbacher, the consistent serving of Carson Hill, and the improved back row play of Arabella Nepa who returned from injury. It was an incredible set to watch as the Eagles bounced out of the doldrums for a 25-14 set two victory, and the championship was now headed to set three with the crowd beginning to get fired up.
Coming off a huge momentum swing, the Eagles took a commanding lead in set three 5-1. The Highlanders would tie it by winning volleys that seemed to go on forever. Neither team was willing to give up a point unless it was earned. Highlands managed to earn their points back on a few misteps by the Eagles and we were quickly tied 9-9. Milli Watts came in to serve and dominated again from the baseline and now the Eagles were up 12-9, looking forward to winning a championship. However, that was not to be as the Highlands serve, and the fading serve-recieve passing of the Eagles put the Highlanders up 13-12. The gym was electric with excitement when Annalise Fon stepped up to serve and drove a point in for an Ace off a highlanders player out of bounds. The score now 13-13. Annalise drove in another serve, and the Highlands players managed to win a volley of freeballs to take a 14-13 lead. It all came down to the serve of Highlands. The Eagles passed it up, set up a beautiful attack, but Highlands dug up an incredible hit from the back row of the Eagles and set up an attack of their own. The Highlands player drove it straight over the Eagles blockers and the ball landed on the baseline, center court, for the Highlands third set victory point 13-15.
Coach BySura had this to say after the game, "I've coach over 170 middle school volleyball matches and 12 different middle school volleyball teams for Rabun Gap. I've seen a lot of players come through here with more talent, but there is no other team that has more heart than this group that stands in front of me every day. Watching them battle tonight was a special moment, and I hope that none of them take this moment for granted. So much to be proud of."
Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School is a private, coeducational day and boarding school for grades Pre-K through 12. Centrally located between Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, and Asheville, NC, we prepare young people for college, career, and a lifetime of leadership and service.