BOONVILLE - The undefeated Lady Rams have a new focus this season: former player Meme Brown.
Brown, a 2009 Starmount graduate and a four-year standout on the volleyball court, has been battling ovarian cancer for the past four years.
While she is still fighting the deadly disease, her alma mater found a way to honor own of their own, by dedicating the season to Brown and wearing teal shoelaces, ribbons and headbands (the color of ovarian cancer awareness) for the remainder of the year.
“We’re going to be here and dedicate our season to her,” head coach Jon Symons explained. “It’s an important deal to these kids and we’re going to take it serious and get after.”
While talking about his former player, a teary-eyed Symons said he tries to get his current Rams to emulate Brown’s work ethic on the court and in the gym.
“It’s hard to talk about her. She played for me for four years,” he said. “I never had a kid who worked harder than Meme. As a person, I tell my kids, if you want to emulate someone in their work ethic, it would be Meme. She’s a fun kid; she always played with energy and was always happy.
“She’s battling right now, and we’re proud of her fight. We’re hoping the best for her. It’s a tough battle for her, but we’re always thinking about her,” Symons added.
A teal-laden Starmount honored Brown with a sweep over Yadkin County rival Forbush Thursday night to continue its dominant run through the Mountain Valley Conference.
The Lady Rams swept the Falcons 25-15, 25-19, 25-12 to take the season series from their county neighbors.
In the first set, Starmount jumped out to leads of 10-5 and 16-9 before cruising to the double-digit win.
The Rams came out even more dominant in the second set, grabbing a quick 21-10 advantage. After calling a timeout, Forbush took advantage of Starmount reserves, trimming the lead down to five at 24-19.
But Erin Barr finished things off with a kill to give the Rams a commanding 2-0 lead.
In the final set, Starmount scored 10 of the first 11 points and took a 21-8 advantage late in the set. After the Falcons cut into the lead to 23-12, Ashton Gregory sealed the sweep with a strike.
“The rivalry match with Forbush is always fun to play at home, especially for the seniors, it’ll probably be the last time they play Forbush all year. I tried to play the seniors as much as I possibly could,” Symons explained. “I was happy with it. We played with a lot of intensity, especially in the first game.
“The kids played well. They played some good defense. Erin is setting really well right now, Rachel put some really good swings on the right side, Sydney made a couple good digs and Ashton is becoming more of what we are used to with her. Josie has come a long way with her knee and she’s putting some good swings on the ball, he continued.”
Gregory paced Starmount with 12 kills and six blocks on the afternoon, while Hayley Hartman added five kills and 10 digs.
Barr recorded 27 assists and three kills, while Rachel Wagoner and Hunter Welborn finished with five kills apiece. Josie Matthews added four kills with Sydney Caudle pitching in eight digs.
With the win, Starmount improved to 16-3 on the season and 10-0 in conference play. Symons said he is now “fine-tuning” the team for a postseason run.
“We’re feeling good where we are right now. We’re trying to get that number one seed for the state playoffs - you’d like to stay home as much as you possible can in the playoffs,” he said. “That’s been the goal. We still have six conference games left and we never want to overlook anything, so we have to prepare to play.”
But one thing will be on his mind for the remainder of the season - Meme Brown.
“She rolled through my mind quite a bit tonight,” he said. “It was good to see people come out and support her. It’s tough, but we’ll get through it, and hopefully she will too.”
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.