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BCHS volleyball wins region title
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Bryan County volleyball coach Melissa Adams will never forget the first volleyball tryouts she held three years ago.

“We held tryouts at the end of the school year,” Adams recalled. “I would serve the ball and they would catch it.

“That’s what we were starting with. There was no feeder program, no program at the rec department. Nothing. None of the kids knew anything about volleyball. “We have gone from that to this.” The ‘this’ is a region championship and a No. 1 seed going into the Class A state playoffs which began Wednesday night with the Redskins (20-11) hosting Taylor County (1-13). Should they win, they would play at home Saturday at a time to be determined against the winner of Randolph Clay vs. Temple.

In only their third year of competition the Redskins have proved to be fast learners and a team of deep resolve. Finding themselves on the brink of elimination they rallied to beat Woodville-Tompkins to claim the Region 3 title.

During the regular season the Redskins, Woodville (14-10) and Savannah High (19-3) were all 6-2 in region play but Bryan County got to host thanks to tiebreakers. In the championship match it was all Woodville at the outset as it won the first two games, 25-22 and 25-23. There was no panic thanks in part to Adams’ decision to play as difficult a schedule as she could arrange. “That was them trusting the process, knowing although they were down, they could compete,” Adams said. “It was a matter of knowing what to do, everyone doing their job.

That’s what they did: they just did their job.

“We have a small region so I schedule as many games against good teams as I can. We’re not looking to build our record but to play good teams, learn to compete and get better.”

The Redskins played a jayvee schedule their first year and finished .500. Last year they made the state playoffs but lost at Heard County, which reached the Elite Eight, in the first round. It was another learning experience, one which has paid dividends this year. “We competed and held our own,” Adams said.

“Heard County had to earn it. When we play a dominant team, we make them earn it. We don’t give it to them.”

So how did this team go from catching a serve rather than returning it three years ago to winning a region championship and looking to make a deep run in the playoffs.

“That first year we had only one girl, Reese Raeburn, a freshman who had played the sport,” Adams said. “She had played one year of middle school. It was definitely challenging.

“There was a lot of off-season work: in the spring and them putting in a lot of time in the summer. There were weeks in the summer we had two-adays.”

With 16 players on the varsity roster Adams was limited to dressing only 12 players for the region tournament. One player she wisely chose to put in the lineup was freshman Emmy Christensen who had missed much of the season with a shoulder injury.

“She was a big part of our winning,” Adams said.

“I don’t know the number of blocks and kills she had but she stepped up big time. “She had not played much until Saturday. She has a sore shoulder and she’s had to do a lot of stretching and preventive maintenance. We may not play her Wednesday because we’ll need her Saturday if we get that far.”

Whether or not Christensen plays against Taylor County the Redskins will still have a strong lineup on the floor led by Raeburn, setter Braelyn Shuman,Jada Conley, Haven Dixon, Kaleigh Temple and Taryn Avramidis.

“Haven and Kaley are our key defensive players,” Adams said. “They do all the dirty work. Reese and Taryn are the only outside hitters we have and they never come off the floor.

They bring a level of security when on the court, a level of calm.

“Braelyn is our number one setter and Jada is a workhorse. She’s our No. 1 middle and she puts in the work; she makes sure no one is skimping.”

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