The bleachers at Franklin County School filled up with spirit and support on Monday night, at home games for all three volleyball teams.
The Seahawk middle school and junior varsity squads put up rapid-fire wins over Wewahitchka, but the Gators served the varsity a 10-15 loss in the fifth and deciding set.
The middle school victories in two “A” games were their first in conference contests, and without a “B” team this year, these tallies help tighten up its season. “We have some girls who have never played the game,” said sideline coach Christey Kirvin. “We haven’t fully teamed up yet, but we’re getting good.”
Seventh-grader Alexia McNair scored several of the team’s points on her serves, to cement an early 10-2 lead. The final score in the game was a close race, but ended 25-23 in Franklin County’s favor. Eighth-grader Marissa Gilbert, ABC student Jostyn Tipton, and McNair all secured single aces and McNair had one kill.
In game two, the “Baby Hawks,” as they are lovingly referred to by upperclassmen, had fresh feet on the court, and won another close match 25-20. Gilbert had one kill, with three aces, and her efforts were supported by aces from McNair and seventh grader Hannah Grace Abel.
Tipton said Kirvin told the team after game one that it should not have ended that close. “That’s why we tried harder,” Tipton said.
Eighth-grader Samantha Anderson said the program’s Big Sister initiative, that requires older players to adopt an up-and-comer, “helps a lot,” to build teamwork.
McNair summed up the game with a simple, “Yea!” but also thanked her teammates for the sportsmanship shown thus far this season. “We’re getting better at talking and it feels great,” she said.
The Gator middle school team has had one win and two losses so far this year.
Against the Gators, the junior varsity girls bounced each point, one-for-one, and gave the roaring crowd a show of some serious synergy. On Thursday, against Altha High School, they had been seven points behind, when they caught up for that win.
Final scores on Monday were 25-7 and 25-18.
After tying it up, 18-18, captain and sophomore Abby Johnson served for 19, and kept it climbing. The team filled up center court with aggressive hits and kept the intensity up all the way to the end.
“We had really good consistency on the floor,” said sophomore Alaina Wilson.
After a shaky start in their first set, the varsity ladies worked the center of the court, at times on their knees to get the ball in the air. Freshman Brooklyn O’Neal was the secret serving weapon, keeping the scoring higher on the home side. In the final minutes the Lady Hawks went round-for-round with Wewahitchka, but answered every point and finally won 25-23.
Senior captain Tanaya Harris, sophomore Tiuana Benjamin and eighth-grader Kylah Ross each had one kill, and senior Alexus Johnson and freshman Brooklyn O’Neal served up aces. Harris and captain Casey Riley assisted.
Wewahitchka started the scoring in the second set, and the Seahawks scrambled to handle the net.
When the score reached 0-8, coach Tara Klink called a time-out to shake the team up and they bounced back, scoring easily on serves by Riley to chalk the board at 5-8. Players defending backhanded two more balls over to their opponent’s side and seemed to be back from the brink at a more comfortable 7-10 deficit. Riley continued to dominate team play, with a save from the floor to make it 11-14 with a big block with Benjamin, but the team ultimately lost 18-25.
It was evident by the end of the third set, that players felt another loss setting in, and after salvaging one more point, they again fell 18-25.
The Seahawks scored the first point in the fourth, and went on to a 25-23 win.
“We didn’t quite pull through,we can do a whole lot better,” said Riley, optimistic about rebuilding team spirit for remaining games this week against Liberty and Wakulla Christian School. The middle school team plays Port St. Joe on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at home.