Lady Flame start regular season unbeaten

9-3 Page 7A.inddPICKENS — The Pickens High School volleyball team traveled to a tournament at Boiling Springs on Aug. 26 to kick off regular-season play.

The team struggled in the first game against Landrum, a result of nerves in a line-up featuring several sophomores.

Anchored by a veteran defense, however, Pickens conquered the butterflies and won 25-22. The second game played out more to expectations, as the Lady Flame defeated a squad coached by former Pickens player Leigh (Harbin) Denton 25-17.

Next up on the night was Broome, but Pickens dispatched the Centurions handily, 25-14, 25-6.

The last match pitted the Flame against the host team, also coached by a former Pickens player in Allyson (Chasteen) Elliott.

The games see-sawed, but the Lady Flame battled and won 26-24, 25-23.

“We had to work,” said Pickens coach Jennifer (Plizga) Gravely, also a product of the Pickens program. “But that’s good for us. We thrive on the competition. Boiling Springs is a well-coached team, and we always struggle against the AAAA school. They run an up-tempo offense and play tough defense.

“We passed a test tonight. I was pleased with the leadership of the older girls and the fighting mentality of the younger ones. I look forward to an exciting season.”

Gravely spoke highly of the other former Blue Flame she coached against.

“The three of us played together back in the day for Peggy (Anthony),” Gravely said with a smile. “And if truth be told, Leigh and Allyson played a huge role in my development as a player and in the direction of my life. Because of them, I went on to Converse to continue my volleyball career. I absolutely love them, and I value the passion we share for the sport.”

Pickens opened region play at home on Tuesday against Wren and will travel to West-Oak today (Wednesday). The Lady Flame junior varsity squad will also be in action, starting at 5:30 p.m.