The crowd roared as senior Kelly McNamara served to start the game. This was no ordinary serve, however, as it was her first serve of the year, and it came at the end of the regular season. McNamara had not been able to play on the Western North Carolina Athletic Conference champion Lady Falcon squad because she tore her ACL before the season started.

“When I had the chance to serve the ball on senior night even though I was not cleared to play, it was one of the happiest moments of my career,” McNamara said. “I tore my ACL during an open gym when I came down hard after jumping. I had to have surgery just a couple weeks after. I was really upset, but now I am focused on rehabbing and getting ready to be cleared around Christmas time.”

The Lady Falcons are currently 23-2 overall, 13-1 in conference play. The team defeated the East Gaston, 3-0, on Saturday in the first round of the playoffs. They will play at home against Enka at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the second round.

The season has been marked by exciting finishes.

Earlier in the season the Lady Falcons took the North Henderson Lady Knights to five sets before holding them off, winning by a score of 25-14, 24-26, 25-11, 24-26, 15-12. This was followed later in the year by one of the most exciting match of the season against the Lady Blue Devils from Brevard, as they came back from two sets down to win 20-25, 20-25, 25-19, 25-13, 15-13.

Junior Haley Staton said the seniors and their leadership have been the driving force behind this year’s successes.

“The seniors are not only the leaders on the court, but also off it as well,” Staton said. “From the beginning they organized things to do together as a team, and they have really turned us into a family.”

The seniors have given big production, especially senior libero Savanna Austin, who is having an outstanding year. Austin led the conference with 372 total digs with an average of 5.3 a set and 18.2 a match. Austin was also named Prep Player of the Week by blueridgenow.com earlier in the season.

The additions of freshmen Mary Catherine Ball and Destynee Galloway have proved helpful to the team. Ball actually has a better hitting percentage this season than any freshman with 320 attempts or more in the state of North Carolina, according to maxpreps.com.

McNamara, who has committed to play volleyball at Gardner-Webb University, said that every player is focused on the playoffs and a possible state championship.

As for the season as a whole, McNamara said she couldn’t be prouder to be a Lady Falcon.

“I am extremely proud to be a member of this team,” McNamara said. “We have been through so much with injuries and overcoming some tough matches. I’m excited to see what we can do in the playoffs.”

By Andrew Murray

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