We're now fully into the postseason for our local softball and volleyball teams. Soon we'll head for the state playoffs, and then, after the season ends, we'll have the annual sports banquets.
In my illustrious high school sports career, the sports banquets were always a grand time. Three to four hours of free food, fellowship and me accepting my award as "Most Improved." That's right, I got the Most Improved Award pretty much every year.
The big question for me was that if I was so good at improving, why was I kept on the bench?
Fast-forward several years later, and it's time for me to give out a Most Improved Award of my own. But this one isn't like the "Most Improved" plaque I got as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
This one's completely intangible.
My Most Improved Award goes to, without a doubt, the Harlem volleyball team.
Only one year ago, the Lady Bulldogs were fighting to keep above .500 and limped into the area tournament, where their season ended.
This year, Harlem wiped the floor with the rest of the Area 3B-AAA teams. The Lady Bulldogs didn't lose a single area match and finished the regular season with a 20-6 record. Five of those losses came to bigger and more developed volleyball programs from Greenbrier, Lakeside and Evans.
The Lady Bulldogs didn't stop with the regular season. On the opening day of the Area 3-AAA Tournament last weekend, Harlem dominated, this time with four straight wins in four matches.
Not only that, the first day of the tournament ended with Harlem making school history. For the first time, according to Lady Bulldog coach Mike Hopkins, Harlem has advanced to the Class AAA state playoffs.
Hopkins deserves much of the credit. He's only in his third year as head coach, but each season since he took over has seen dramatic improvement.
The Class AAA state playoffs, which begin Oct. 28, will take place at four different locations throughout the state. Harlem's finish in this weekend's region tournament finals will determine where and who the Lady Bulldogs will play.
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