First time in school history volleyball team moves past districts

After downing Port St. Joe in three straight at the end of the regular season, the Lady Seahawk volleyball team headed into the post-season with high hopes.

But who knew they would upset powerhouse Chipley to finish as district runner-up?

On Oct. 4 at St. Joe, Coach Tara Klink’s squad downed the Lady Tiger Sharks 27-25, 25-16 and 25-11 for a regular season win.

After that, came the storm.

“Due to Hurricane Michael, the end of our volleyball season was interrupted. We went for two weeks without practice, then had to play in our district tournament with only one practice the day before the game,” said Klink.

The Class 1A district consists of Franklin, Altha, Chipley and Liberty, but Altha opted to forego continuing their season due to the devastation from the storm.

Originally, the first round of district tournament play was scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16 and the championship game on Thursday, Oct. 18, with a week break before regional playoffs began. But since the district tournament was condensed, the third seeded Lady Seahawks and second-seeded Chipley) played at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct 23, followed by the championship played between the winner and Liberty at 7 p.m.

“Franklin went into the game versus Chipley as the underdog; they beat us twice during the season,” said Klink. “I made some key position changes, like moving senior Sophia Kirvin to outside hitter, which gave us more of an edge.

“The girls got in their heads that we could only win on one side of the court, and in the end we ended up playing the tie breaker fifth set on the ‘bad" side,” said the coach. “I told them that we came to win and they had to believe that. They were determined and refused to give up.”

The girls won the opener 25-17, and then fell 12-25 before coming back to win 25-13. They then lost the fourth game 17-25, setting up a fifth game, which they won 15-13.

The Lady Seahawks then faced Liberty in the district championship. “We were worn out, but played a decent game, losing to Liberty in three sets – 25-12, 25-12 and 25-7.”

The loss gave Franklin County the runner-up trophy, and both they and Liberty advanced to regionals two days later on that Thursday.

Franklin played Blountstown at Altha because their gym was destroyed. With players out due to homecoming activities, Franklin lost to Blountstown in 3 sets – 25-3, 25-4 and 25-8, and their season came to an end.

This is the first time in Franklin County High School history that the volleyball team has earned a trophy and advanced past districts.

“I am so proud of these girls and the dedication and drive they've had throughout this season. I will miss these seven seniors so much,” said Klink. “Some of them began playing volleyball the very first year I coached, and now they are graduating. It's the end of an era, but I'm glad we ended it on a good note.

“Our program has a lot of upcoming athletes and I'm excited for what the future holds for Franklin County volleyball in the next few years,” she said.

Seniors honored at Senior Night included Captain Tanaya Harris, Captain Casey Riley, Alexus Johnson, Jazmyne Farmer, Peyton Millender, Sophia Kirvin, and Beyla Walker