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Seniors Payne and Main showcase some of Johnson County's talent

Competing alongside some of the best in the region, two of Johnson County High School’s senior volleyball players recently took part in an Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) all star match up at Patrick Henry High School in Glade Springs, VA. For Miranda Payne and Shannon Main, it was a chance to showcase some of Johnson County’s talent. Rising to meet the challenge, both girls performed very well in a tough series of rounds against an equally talented group of challengers. It was state versus state as Tennessee took on Virginia in a best of five competition that left Tennessee on top four wins to one.
Made up of seniors from schools like Dobbyns Bennett, Sullivan South, and Science Hill, Tennessee’s team was coached by Johnson County’s very own Eric Crabtree, alongside Sullivan East’s Julia Rafelowski. Players were nominated by their school’s coach and the best were chosen to participate. According to Crabtree, “It was an all-star selection. We know the other coaches well enough that they are going to send us quality players. We had some of the top programs in the area on our team. The Virginia team ranged from Galax to Thomas Walker and everywhere between. They played very well.”
There were two practice sessions prior to the competition, giving the former rivals a chance to get to know one another and to get a feel for how the team would mesh. “It wasn’t a lot of practice,” admitted Crabtree. “We practiced on a Saturday when we had about seven of the eleven girls there and we practiced on a Monday and had about eight there. It wasn’t something that gave you a good sense of how good they were going to be, but we got to know each other, got to hang out, got to understand where everybody needs to play, and then Saturday we played really well.” Even though this is the first year that the FCA has sponsored a volleyball event, spectators were treated to an exciting run of games where both Johnson County girls distinguished themselves, a point that seemed to give Crabtree some pride. “It was a real good showing because we rotated everybody. We had eleven players and we did rotations. Miranda had four kills and about three blocks, and Shannon had about four kills. They really fit in. We had some really good players on our team and they were right there with them. They played very, very well, and represented Johnson County well,” he said.
Both teams put up a hard fight, impressing even the coaches. “There were rallies that would go on from spike return to spike return,” said Crabtree. “We had ones that would go on for three or four rallies at a time. People were spiking and digging, spiking and digging. It was so fun to watch. It was very good volleyball that I wish more people got to see. They were two very good teams just going at each other. “ Yet, with a slight overall advantage, the Tennessee team was able to get ahead the majority of the games, only coming close twice; once with a loss and another that ended in a close 25-21 win. The main difference is a tougher, longer Tennessee season, typically playing about ten more games a year. Comparing the best schools in both states the two are on even footing, but Tennessee has the better field overall. Commenting on Johnson County’s role in the event, Crabtree highlighted the impact that such an experience can have on the team. “They were two seniors who have really done a lot since I took over. They’ve stepped up, played well, never complained, and did everything I ask. We had three seniors with Priscilla Herman and all three of them just did wonderful. That’s why we rewarded them with being able to play in the all-star game. We hope that seeing our girls play in it will give the younger members of the team the goal to play in it as well.We’re going to do it every year from here on out because there was a very good response to it. The girls had a good time, the parents enjoyed it, and spectators enjoyed it. It was a very good day of volley ball.”