Belgreen captures county volleyball championship

The first-ever Franklin County volleyball tournament was arguably born out of necessity.

Although volleyball coaches in Franklin County have wanted a county tournament in the past it really wasn’t feasible until this year. Belgreen and Tharptown have had programs for a few years, but Red Bay just started a program this year. With a three-team field, it was only natural for volleyball to join basketball, baseball and softball in having a county tournament.

In this pandemic-laden season, games have had to be cancelled or postponed so frequently, it just made sense to get a few extra matches in to start the tournament this year.

Belgreen was able to capture the first county title, beating Tharptown in the finals.

“I was proud of my girls for showing resilience and grit after their loss to Tharptown in pool play,” said Belgreen coach Susie Tverberg. “They didn’t get down or give up. They kept fighting, and I am proud of them for that. It makes me happy they were able to feel a sense of accomplishment by winning this tournament.”

Tharptown beat Red Bay in two sets in the best two-of-three format. Belgreen turned around and beat Red Bay in two sets – 25-10 and 25-16 – as well, eliminating the Tigers from the tournament.

Tharptown beat Belgreen in two sets, 25-20 and 25-15. With the Bulldogs and Wildcats having the two best records, they advanced to the finals, where Belgreen returned the favor, beating Tharptown in two sets 25-15 and 25-22 to capture the title.

Emma Dempsey had 32 kills and six aces, and Makayla Lane added 12 kills and six aces, to lift the Bulldogs to the championship.

Kelsey Wilson had six kills and eight digs for Belgreen. Noelle Willingham had 31 assists and Hannah Borden seven aces.

For Tharptown, Jaiden Gaston had six kills, two blocks and an ace.

Taylor Cameron had three kills, Berenice Bahena had 17 digs, Perla Chavez had three kills, Bailey Nipper had four kills and two aces, and Lesley Staggs had a kill and two aces.

Seniors from all three teams said they were excited to be a part of this first tournament experience.

“It was so exciting to make history again,” said Red Bay senior Lila Blackburn. “I was able to be part of Red Bay’s first volleyball team and participate in the first volleyball county tournament. That is special. I was very proud of our team competing well against schools that have such wellestablished programs.”

“It’s been an amazing season, and we’ve made a lot of good memories,” said Belgreen senior Kelsey Wilson. “I’ve had an excellent coaching staff and teammates. I feel very blessed to have such an amazing career – winning the firstever county tournament, hosting the area tournament and hopefully advancing to subregionals.”

“It was an honor to play in the first-ever county tournament,” added Tharptown senior Macy Petree. “Hopefully, one day all county teams can have a team, and it will be a county-wide event. This has been a very challenging season with the pandemic.”

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