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BHS ends volleyball season with third-straight trip to Super Regionals

By Tressa Bragwell for the FCT

“It took me 14 years to build a championship program!” was what Belgreen High School volleyball Coach Teresa Whitten was told by a retired coach from Wilson High School. Belgreen has had a varsity volleyball program for five years, and for the third year out of those five, the team has advanced to the Super-Regional Tournament in Huntsville.

Finishing the regular season 7-14 was not the goal for the season. Finishing runner-up in the Area was not the goal. However, returning to the very intense atmosphere of Super-Regionals was the goal. Belgreen played Spring Garden at 10:15 a.m. Oct. 23.

“This year has flown by, and I am always sad to see it come to an end,” Whitten said. “With all the new faces and eighth graders playing on varsity, I am proud of what we have accomplished. The foundation is laid, and with the talent moving up from JV and the one returning on varsity, I know we will continue to build the program and find success.”

The final might have been three sets to one in Spring Garden’s favor – the No. 3 ranked 1A team in the state – but the excitement for the future of Belgreen volleyball could not be squelched.

The Lady Dogs came up short this season in advancing to the state tournament, and for seniors Allyson Bragwell, Kylie Murray and Tessa Chandler, that means they have done all they can do for the program: is Area Champions one year and three straight Super Regionals.

“I’ve enjoyed my four years as a volleyball player. I’ve made lifelong friends who will always have a special place in my heart,” said senior setter Kylie Murray. “I was part of the first team to go to Super Regionals or win Area … I hope everyone who continues to play volleyball plays with the love I have for the game because it will be over one day and she will miss it the second it ends.”

Senior hitter/setter Allyson Bragwell recounted her tenure as a Lady Bulldog, building the foundation for the future. “Being on the first volleyball team here was a great experience,” Bragwell said. “I wish the best for all of the teams in the future. I hope they have many more wins and get to have the experiences I did.”

Tessa Chandler, senior hitter, recognized Whitten’s dedication to the team. “Coach Whitten is a wonderful coach. She does everything she can for the team and pushes us to always do our best so we can have no regrets,” Chandler said. “I am definitely going to miss being a part of her team along with all my wonderful teammates. I am so glad I was able to be a part of the BHS volleyball team. It was such a great feeling to be able to go to Super Regionals three years in a row, and getting to be area champs last year and runner-ups this year was a blessing for all of us.”

Coach Whitten reflected on the year, and previous years, with these three foundational players.

“Allyson was the veteran on the team,” Whitten said. “She had played since the program began and was a 6-rotational player. She had always been a great and consistent server who usually had more aces than anyone. This year, Allyson also set a good deal for Katie, which resulted in many kills, so Allyson’s contribution to the team was vast and will be missed.

“Kylie came to Belgreen my first year as coach and played well that first year, but the last two years, Kylie has been an exceptional player,” Whitten added. “She became a setter last year, but she was also a 6-rotational player, who has done an outstanding job in all areas. The best part about Kylie is her heart and how she fights to win. Her presence on the court will be greatly missed.

“Tessa joined volleyball a couple of years ago. She has played in every position except setter. Tessa brought enthusiasm to the team. Whether on the court or not, she was always cheering on the team. If Tessa needed to hit the floor to pass a ball, she did so. She loved playing volleyball, and it was so apparent when she was on the court. I know everyone will miss her enthusiasm and her comic relief she brought to the team.”

Whitten added, “It takes hard work and dedication to build a program, and I have the girls who want that as much as I do. I am excited for our program and the direction it is going.”