Members of the Blue Ridge High volleyball team have been following the sport at the Olympics on TV and the Internet, picking up a few pointers as the world’s best players descended on London.
That’s one way to get inspired for the 2012 season.
Another involved attending a volleyball camp at Furman, said Blue Ridge volleyball coach Laura Beth Lee.
The team, which made it to the Class AAA playoffs a year ago, is hoping to build on progress from 2011.
Two decades ago, Blue Ridge won a state championship in volleyball.
“Bringing attention to volleyball back at Blue Ridge is one of our goals,” said Lee.
The coach is a 2008 Blue Ridge grad and was a three-time all-region performer in volleyball. She went on to play the sport at Coker College and expects to finish her nursing degree at USC Upstate this December. She has coached volleyball for four years, two of them working with the Blue Ridge varsity.
Seeing the strides taken by one of Blue Ridge’s arch rivals provided something of a wake-up call for her team.
It was the first state championship in volleyball for Eastside, which will be competing against Blue Ridge this year in the Peach Blossom AAA Region. Blue Ridge previously had been in Region 3-AAA.
“Eastside’s winning state last year hit home,” she said.
The 2012 Blue Ridge squad includes three seniors (two returnees plus one transfer), five juniors and two sophomores.
“We had five seniors graduate this year, so we’re still a young team,” said Lee.
Two juniors who could prove pivotal to Blue Ridge’s prospects this season are Ross Mathis and Brynn Patrick. Mathis, in addition to being all-region in basketball, is the setter on the volleyball team.
Even though Lee’s team is relatively young, the players make up for their youth with unbridled enthusiasm.
“I look at this young team as a good thing. They have fun out there and have room to grow,” the coach said.