Polk County Middle playing at home in a volleyball championship game – there may be no safer bet around.
The Wolverines won their second consecutive Blue Ridge Middle School Conference championship on Monday, sweeping Flat Rock 2-0 in the title match at Polk Middle.
Backed by a loud fan base of students and parents, Polk Middle rolled to a 25-12, 25-9 win over the Eagles (10-5), capping a 12-3 season and earning another conference banner for the school’s gym.
In addition to being a second straight crown for the Wolverines, the first time that’s been done in school history, it is the program’s third BRMSC championship in four years. All three title matches have been played at Polk Middle.
“After losing to Rugby and Apple Valley in back-to-back matches in late September this season could’ve ended much differently,” said Polk Middle head coach Matthew Russell. “But this is a team of fighters. The girls came together and refused to turn their back on their goal they set the first week of practice – a championship banner. I’m so grateful for their drive, their patience and their love of the game.”
Polk Middle took command of the match midway through the first set. Leading 13-11, Kylee Mullis served 11 straight points, taking the Wolverines to set point. Mullis had several aces during the run, and that and three kills from Marilyn Castillo and one from Marissa Twitty helped get the crowd into the match as well.
A Flat Rock error ended the set, giving Polk a 1-0 lead.
“Kylee Mullis definitely saved her best game of the season for today and came through when we needed her most,” Russell said. “Between sets our girls were loose and itching to get back on the floor for the second set. As coaches, we weren’t changing a thing. We sent out the same lineup that started the match and looked to take control early in the second set. ”
Castillo opened the second set with an ace, then Rollins Carter served nine straight points, including a pair of aces. Kristen Hall had two kills during the run as Polk Middle built a 12-2 advantage.
With the lead at 18-9, Emmie McDowell and Mullis served out the match.
Basking in his second title as head coach, Russell had many to thank.
“Our administration team at Polk Middle is top notch. Hank Utz and Nikki Honeycutt have been so supportive of our efforts this year and have been at every home game to cheer us on and help us get the gym cleaned up,” Russell said.
“Coach (Donna) Hall is definitely the X’s and O’s guru for this team. She knows the game as well as anybody I’ve ever been around. She also put in a lot of hours with these girls in the off-season building skills and team chemistry and I can’t thank her enough for that.
“A big thanks also goes out to our team parents/grandparents. We carried a crowd with us to every game we played this season so it never felt like we were far from home. I’ve been a part of teams where players’ families are not that involved so I know what a difference it makes.
“Lastly, a big shout out to our girls this year. With all due respect to the rest of the teams in the conference, I don’t know that there is a harder working group to be found. This team has not had a day off since tryouts on the first day of August. We never missed a Friday practice and the girls continued to do all the things we pushed them to do in games and in practice.”