Pickens Middle School volleyball team posts third straight undefeated season

PICKENS — The Pickens Middle School volleyball team recently completed back-to-back-to-back undefeated seasons by winning the AOP Conference Division II Tournament title under the direction of head coach Mellie Crumpton.

The Sparks won the regular-season title with a perfect record of 12-0 and received a first-round bye in the conference tournament held Oct. 22 at Pickens High School. The Sparks opened the tournament with a 25-9, 25-9 win over Palmetto and then defeated Powdersville twice — 25-15, 25-18 in the semifinals and 25-21, 25-18 in the finals — to claim its third end-of-year tournament championship in a row.

“Our focus this season has been on playing as a team,” Crumpton said. “Saturday during the tournament they proved just how well they play together as a team.

“We had one of our starting setters go out of the tournament with an injury in the semi-finals match. That is just like losing one of your starting quarterbacks. The girls could have let that break them mentally, but instead they focused on playing together as a team. Every player stepped up and did their job.”

The Lady Sparks (15-0) were dominant the entire season and only dropped two sets all year. Over the last three years, the Sparks are 44-0 in matches and an incredible 129-3 in sets. Crumpton has guided the Sparks to four regular-season titles and four end-of-year tournament titles in her five years at Pickens, and she said that this team “had big shoes to fill.”

“When you are coming off of a two-year winning streak, you feel pressured to keep the streak alive. This year’s team was really young, consisting of 10 seventh-graders and only two eighth-graders,” Crumpton said. “I never wanted them to feel pressured, so we never focused on keeping the winning streak alive. Yes, we kept up with our wins this season and would celebrate, but we focused on one match at a time. I would say they exceeded everyone’s expectations of them this year. I am very proud of their hard work and dedication.”