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Vanessa Agrusa and Haylee Overholt double-team their opponent with a block in a recent game at home. Photo by FHS Yearbook staffFranklin’s volleyball team is off to an unbelievable start with an 8-1 overall record and going 3-0 in the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference. The Panthers are on track to take the conference championship later this season.

“I am very proud of the way the girls are playing,” said Head FHS Volleyball Coach, Anna Shields. “Several players have stepped up and have had to play several positions, are doing well in everything they do. We are 10 strong right now.”

Franklin’s first loss came after the Aug. 30 match against the Enka Jets, 3-0.

After regrouping and changing strategies, The Panthers went on to win their first conference game against Brevard 3-1 (21- 25, 25-19, 25-22, 25-11) solidifying their position as a conference powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with. After crushing Brevard, the team has remained undefeated in the conference, beating both Pisgah and Smoky Mountain.

Middle blocker Maggie Stewart is in the air high above the Pisgah Bears.“The girls are on a mission,” explained Shields. “They have set out for a conference championship, and as long as they keep working as hard as they have, I am sure we will get it.” Shields also said that the Panthers have their sights set on a state title, and are prepared to work as hard as it may take to get there and bring the state title home to Franklin.

Five of the 10 players on the Panthers volleyball team are returning seniors who have been essential in the success of the team thus far. Senior Lindsey Simpson is not only leading the Panthers as one of two team captains, but she is also returning to the team after being named Player of the Year last season.

Defensive specialist Kacie Peck has her eye on the ball.Senior Karey Conner is also an asset to the Panthers, assisting Simpson in leading the team as the other team captain. Shields explained that the leadership demonstrated by Simpson and Conner has really motivated the team and encouraged the girls to fight for each win.

Shields noted the senior twins, Kacie and Katie Peck have also been vital in the success of the team, as they are strong defensive players and senior Lori Morgan has guided the team through her versatility and ability to play any position on the court.

According to Shields, the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference is among the best in the state and all of the opponents prove to be a challenge, but the team is focused on their Sept. 20 match-up against the defending state champions, West Henderson. “We will have to play hard and keep the momentum up against West Henderson to beat them,” she said. Shields also noted that Pisgah is one of the other tough competitors in the conference, even though the Panthers defeated them last week, sending the Black Bears home with their first loss of the season. “We also have to prepare for our next face off with Pisgah,” said Shields. “We already beat them once, but it was close, they are strong competitors.”


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