By R. Alan Richardson
It was a day of positivity for Morgan County Middle School. Not only did they open up and play their inaugural event in the beautiful new athletic facility, but they came away with two wins over conference rival Malcom Bridge and honored their eighth graders during the event.
The MCMS facility is
a fantastic venue that seats over 1000 spectators,
according to Athletic Director Brian Cousins. He said, “We opened our new gym with some awesome volleyball victories against Malcom Bridge out of Oconee County. We had a great crowd for eighth grade recognition night. Our gym is a spectacular place to view an athletic event. As the Athletic Director and as a basketball coach here, I would like to thank our Board of Education, Dr. James Woodard, and our community for providing us with such a wonderful facility.”
The new facility replaces the long-time Morgan County Middle School gym at Pearl Street. The old facility holds memories for many in the community (including this old sportswriter) but was in dire need of an upgrade and repair after many years of use. It will be missed. The window-lined gym is a work of art that also has a viewing window on the concession stand end with a bar where spectators can view all the action without missing a beat. A score clock on each end of the gym allowed all to enjoy the running score instead of the old-fashioned flip charts used in the past.
The afternoon began with the MCMS black team outlasting Malcom Bridge in three sets 25-17, 23-25, and 15-7. The evenly matched contest began with the Lady Dogs jumping out to an early 5-0 lead. They stayed in control of set one throughout. With Morgan leading 15-10, the service game of eighth grade outside hitter Haedyn Crumbly put the set out of reach. Her overhead hammering serves reeled off eight straight points to seal the early lead at 23-10. Malcom Bridge made a late run, but it was too late when they closed the gap to 24-17 before Rogers Pressley got the final point on a tip and the set 25-17.
Malcom Bridge roared back in the second set to keep things interesting. MOCO seemed to lose their focus, falling behind early 2-6 before Chloe Burns got things going with her service game to bring the Dogs to within one at 5-6. With the score at 8-12 Coach Ryan Folk took a timeout to steady his troops. They responded with three straight that included a nice kill down the line from Crumbley and an ace serve by Quinn Butler. The game stayed close and Morgan took their first lead at 17-16 on a serve by Burns. Malcom Bridge took a timeout after looking at a 21-17 deficit. It was all Lady Lightning after that. The visitors ripped off five straight unanswered points to tie the game and then took the 21-22 lead. Chapel Meeler made a nice cross-court spike that tied the game and then followed it up with a service ace to give MOCO the 23-22 lead. Malcom Bridge closed the set out on two straight kills, the final one hitting the back line to tie the match at 1-1 with the 23-25 set victory.
Extra play was in store. A third set was necessary to determine the winner with the first team getting 15 points taking the win.
It was a doozy. Morgan wasted no time taking a commanding 7-2 advantage on the play of Crumbley’s and Burns’ serve. The Lightning closed the gap to 8-6, but Meeler was up to the task winning five straight points that included two aces. With the 13-6 lead, Morgan closed out the set and the match on a misplay by Malcom Bridge.
Morgan’s “senior” eighth graders that were recognized in between the Black and Red matches included: Chloe Burns, escorted by her parents Araceli Casillas and Gregg Burns, Quinn Butler, escorted by her parents Tim and Amy Butler, Haedyn Crumbley, escorted by her parents Elisa and Sloan Crumbley, Bella Howard, escorted by her parents Mollie Loggins and Jack Howard, Lily Jenkins, escorted by her father Doug Jenkins, Gabby Massey, escorted by her brother Ric Roland and Chapel Meeler, escorted by her parents Jill and Kevin Meeler. The Lady Dogs also recognized the eighth graders from Malcom Bridge at half court by presenting them with flowers to commemorate their hard work and their season.
Morgan’s Red team completed the evening’s festivities by coming away with a 25-21, 25-14 straight set victory. It was a night where a number of the younger players enjoyed a taste of competition in front of the big home crowd. The smiles on the faces of these girls was worth the price of admission. Leading the way for Morgan were Allie Folk, Brynlee Burke, Gabby Massey, Mia Siso, Riley Mitchell, and Sara Jane Potter.
Coach Ashley Potter summed up the evening with these words, “I am so proud of the athletes. They played a great match against Malcom Bridge, improving how they work together as a team. It was an excellent evening to recognize our eighth graders. They have done a great job this year supporting and leading the younger players.”