"You have been here since the program started 6 years ago. I am so proud. You are what has made this program wonderful. I am going to miss you. You should be proud of what this program has become. It is your legacy. You have been exceptional leaders to this program and these girls," Coach Whitecotton overflowed with, as she emotionally addressed the seniors after the last match on Thursday night. The High School Lady Blazers lost a hard fought match in the first part of the Tri Match to Mt. Pisgah 1-2. But then, Samantha Cheek, Izzy Miya and Hannah Robbins dug deep with their teammates and finished off the home part of their high school volleyball careers at Clayton-Bradley with a win over Apostolic Knoxville 2-0, with scores of 26-24 and 25-19.
There were many smiles, tears, cheers, hugs and pictures as the night unfolded Thursday in the CBA gymnasium. Great serving by Layla Bowman got both sets started and Shelby McNeal came up big serving to keep the scoreboard ticking up in CBA's favor. But what really won the night was the great digs, passes and hits from the team as a whole. The Lady Blazers showed that they understand how the game works and what winning volleyball looks like when you play together. They played the game how it should be played when you have three seniors leading the way.
There is a different attitude now after a win, because of the standard that these three seniors have set. It is no longer this huge celebration or exhaustion. They know they can beat anyone if they play their game. "We believe in ourselves now. We know how to win now. We have come to realize why we win or lose and how we can change those things in between points and in between sets and in between matches. Putting the cherry on top tonight was so great. It really is phenomenal how far we have come over the past few years," Defensive Specialist Samantha Cheek explained.
Middle Hitter Hannah Robbins declared, "Tonight was the culmination of 6 years of work as leaders. Working through the good and the bad and figuring out how to make things better. Tonight showed that this is what we can accomplish and we are glad we finished this way. What we have done is more than just learning how to play and how to win. Yes, we have helped build a volleyball program, but more importantly we have also helped build a family."
Captain and Setter Izzy Miya swelled with joy, "I'm so proud of everyone. My heart is racing right now. Two years ago we had to fight for literally every single point. This year we have showed that we expect to score when we play our game. Also, being with Hannah and Sam through everything has helped me so much. The team support is what makes this program great. We all as teenage girls put a lot on our shoulders. We got each other through. It has been such a blessing that I never realized until recently how grateful that I am for what the game and the team have taught me."
The Lady Blazers, led by the three seniors of Sam, Hannah and Izzy, finish their season, as they finish their CBA careers, Tuesday night at Apostolic Maryville.
Go Lady Blazers!