The Pickens High volleyball players remembered all too well how it felt to watch another team receive the championship trophy when they lost in the 2012 Class AAA state final to North Myrtle Beach.
On Nov. 9, the Blue Flame succeeded in turning the tables and winning their own title when they beat North Myrtle Beach to win the 2103 AAA title at White Knoll High School.
“I remember watching them win, and I took that – we all took that – and used it as fuel,” said senior Brianna O’Shields.
“We were much more focused this year,” said senior Brooke Stewart. “We knew what to expect.”
That focus helped Pickens sweep past North Myrtle Beach, 25-12, 25-23, 25-15.
The title is the program’s 14th and first since 2008.
“We just prepared off of what we knew, and we came out really strong,” senior Michaela Leslie said.
After dominating the first game, Pickens fell behind 8-1 in the second before rallying for a 20-16 lead. The Blue Flame had to come back once more in the second to get the win.
Pickens led throughout the third game.
“I just kept telling them to stay in the moment,” said Jennifer Gravely, who won her fifth state title as the Blue Flame’s coach. “Not think of winning or losing or anything else. Just think of that point, that point – where do I need to be defensively and where do I need to be offensively?
“It’s amazing. It’s great to be part of something so big.”
One part of the Blue Flame strategy in the final centered on strong play at the net. They did that behind 10 kills each by Leslie and Laiken Porterfield and another seven by O’Shields.
Pickens also played strong defense; Melodie Broom led the way with 29 digs, followed by Porterfield with 18, Leslie with 17 and Rachel Kellett with 15. Kellett had 21 assists, and Haley Holcombe added 13.