By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Asst. Editor
As the last ball hit the floor ending the Cherokee Lady Braves 2023 volleyball season at Polk Co. High School on the afternoon of Saturday, Oct. 28, I hope everyone in attendance was aware of the magnitude of what their season meant. First off, it truly made history.
I know that history-making is a term thrown around a lot, but this season truly did just that. First off, the Lady Braves won the regular season Smoky Mountain Conference (SMC) title for the first time in school history. They followed that up by winning the SMC Tournament for the first time in school history.
All of that is impressive, but one incredible statistic – and, I want all of you to think about this for a second – is that the Lady Braves didn’t drop a set in SMC play all season. They went 12-0 in the regular season in the conference and didn’t drop a set! They won each conference match 3-0. That is an incredible, incredible feat! Sorry for all of the exclamation points, and I don’t use them often in my writing, but good grief that’s impressive!
Individual honors also came from the conference which are very, very due. Joscelyn Stamper, freshman middle hitter, was named All-Conference Player of the Year. Creedon Arch, senior setter, was named All-Conference Setter of the Year. Five other players were also named to the All-Conference team including: Loshi Ward, Coco Wells, Arden Arkansas, Dvdaya Swimmer, and Alexis Davis. Awee Walkingstick was named Honorable Mention All-Conference.
Before losing to a very good Polk Co. squad in the regional semifinals on Saturday, the Lady Braves were on a 16-game winning streak and didn’t drop a set in that run either. These numbers are not just outstanding; they’re astounding. It’s just not heard of.
As a reporter, I don’t feel that the same level of critique should be given to high school athletes that we see in collegiate and professional sports. Let’s just say that Cherokee volleyball went through a rough patch for many seasons. But, I do want to point out that just four years ago, the team went 0-12 in conference play only winning four sets all season – not four games, four sets.
I felt that needed to be said for perspective.
At the helm of the Lady Braves is Head Coach Pam Sumner Bryant. One thing about Coach Pam, as she is known to her team, is that she won’t talk about herself. Every time I’ve interviewed her, she talks about the girls…always. In an interview two years ago, I think she summed up why the Lady Braves have achieved success in such a short time. “The biggest piece is they are just competitors,” she told me. “They just do not quit. Their overall feel right now is they have a mentality of ‘let’s just go out, let’s get the job done and then go on about our business’. They’re very focused.”
It’s that mentality of not quitting and being laser-focused that got the Lady Braves to where they are today. It shows on the court, and it shows on the sideline. Coach Bryant and her assistant coach, Stephanie Maney, do an excellent job at keeping the Lady Braves focused on the fundamentals of volleyball and getting the job done.
So, again, great season ladies! You can tell you enjoy the game in your play. Keep having fun, keep listening to your coaches, and keep being awesome.