Eagles Middle School Soccer, Volleyball Advance to Tri-State Finals

At 5:24 PM on Wednesday evening, the Rabun Gap Middle School volleyball team rang the victory bell, celebrating their semifinal victory over Highlands Middle School. That bell stands atop the hill leading down to Zavala Family Stadium where their soccer classmates would celebrate their own semifinal victory over Highlands Middle just 25 minutes later. Middle School Athletic Director Wallace Cooper was looking forward to hosting Wednesday’s semifinals, saying, “Our student-athletes have shown incredible dedication and teamwork throughout the season, and we're proud to support them on their journey to success.” Cooper, also an assistant on the varsity football staff, was just in time to celebrate with the soccer team as football practice ended for the Eagles on an adjacent field. 

Looking forward to the semifinal matchup, head soccer coach Ashley Burnett said that her “team is full of talent and a love for soccer.” That energy showed up on the pitch as the Eagles defeated Highlands 10-1. There were multiple goal scorers for the Eagles: Oliver Rodriguez (4), Santi Bannatyne Garcia (3), Jared Greer (1), Elliott Scott (1), Milo Willard (1). The Eagles will play the Summit Charter School Bears on Friday for the Tri-State conference championship at Summit at 4:30 PM. The Bears have tied the Eagles twice this season and Coach Burnett is expecting another exciting game. She says the deciding factor will be the Eagles “playing like a team and being positive and encouraging one another,” while sharing the ball, giving teammates chances to go on runs and with timely through balls the way they did tonight. 

Head volleyball coach Tammi Nowack has done a great job to establish a culture of high expectations and standards with our volleyball team this year. The girls are playing volleyball at a level of togetherness and sophistication that Rabun Gap middle school program has not seen before. The semifinal match against Highlands Middle School was a straight set victory for the Eagles, but they had to battle through some early mistakes as their service game, an area Coach Nowack says has presented the team with some difficulties in the last few weeks, was the thing that turned the tide for them. Team captains Ella Renken and Riese Kirkland had 3 aces each on the night. The Eagles’ offense fed off the service energy: Camryn Tiller had 6 kills, and Sammi Crosby, Ella Renken and Summer Zavala all contributed to meaningful points throughout the match. Like the soccer team, these Eagles will also play Summit Charter School at Summit in the Tri-State finals on Friday; their match is at 5:30 PM. Coach Nowack says that the team’s attention has already shifted to “the championship on Friday which promises to be a challenging contest with two very evenly matched teams.”  She says that if the team can minimize their errors and maintain focus that she has “full confidence in our ability to come out with the win.”
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.