Greenbrier volleyball coach Debbie Born feigned concern earlier in the season when it was pointed out the Wolfpack's previous four region championships this decade had come during odd-numbered years.
There was no need to worry about a jinx. Molly Buckner and Kailyn Blackmon helped ensure that.
The Wolfpack won the Region 2-AAAAA title Saturday in their first season as part of the classification. Buckner, a senior, and Blackmon, a junior, were first-team all-region selections.
Blackmon was named the region's top player.
"They are our one-two punch," said Born, who was named the region's coach of the year.
Born said she changed her offense to account for the versatile Blackmon, who plays setter and hitter.
"She has such a positive attitude," Born said. "Her energy helps this team out tremendously."
Buckner played her final regular-season home match on Oct. 14 against Butler. "Senior Night" at Greenbrier was a one-player affair. Buckner took center stage as her accolades were read. Her father, Ed Buckner, serves as the Wolfpack's scorekeeper.
As the team's lone senior, Buckner is the anchor of a squad that returned almost all new faces from last year's Region 3-AAAA title-winning varsity team. But the Wolfpack have barely skipped a beat.
Blackmon said the current crop of Wolfpack players have benefited from playing together as junior varsity players. The Wolfpack JV team won the region championship during her freshman year.
"When I was a freshman, this was the whole team," Blackmon said. "It's not much of a difference."
Born's label of her two standouts as being a one-two punch is a reference to their chemistry. Blackmon paused a minute while trying to explain how the girls work so well together on the court.
"We have really good communication," she said. "Instead of letting the ball drop, we talk."
Buckner has offers to play at Erskine College, Armstrong Atlantic and at Occidental, a school in California.
The first two schools are on her radar. Distance from home might disqualify the West Coast school.
Greenbrier won the best-of-five match with Butler 25-13, 25-8, 25-11 to send Buckner off in style. She recorded the match's final point with an emphatic block.
"It's sad," she said. "But it's been a good season."
But it is not over.
The region title is the sixth for the school this decade. Blackmon said the Wolfpack did not get the respect they felt they deserved entering their first season as a Class AAAAA school.
"Teams felt we didn't deserve to win region," Blackmon said. "Since we're down here in Augusta, they didn't think we could play volleyball."
The Wolfpack will enter the Class AAAAA state playoffs with a No. 1 seed and a new outlook.
"A whole new season starts now," Buckner said.
The Wolfpack might just have the right combination to go the distance.
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