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Prewitt earns a gym; Forkum forges on

Panthers rock JJVA Invite

Posted 12/31/69

MIDDLEBURG - Two eras of volleyball at Middleburg High School crossed paths Thursday night as a former coach, Carrie Prewitt, was honored for her decades of commitment, and a new coach, Meredith …

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Prewitt earns a gym; Forkum forges on

Panthers rock JJVA Invite


MIDDLEBURG - Two eras of volleyball at Middleburg High School crossed paths Thursday night as a former coach, Carrie Prewitt, was honored for her decades of commitment, and a new coach, Meredith Forkum, jet-bolted her team to one of the more decisive wins in her short career.

"Felt like it was like a blink of an eye and it was over," said Prewitt, who spent nearly 30 years in the Middleburg gym with a plethora of district and region titles and numerous Final Four finishes. "I was never expecting this because you don't do something like this expecting days like today."

Prewitt, who has been succeeded at the coach position by, Forkum, a former player of hers and also a more recent assistant coach, noted that her lifespan has centered around the gym.

"I kind of realized the other day that for the past 30 years, I've spent more time in this building than in any building in my lifetime," said Prewitt. "Recently, I have taken time to take care of my mom, did some hiking in the final years and spent time with my kids and grandkids."

As for the celebration, which featured a ton of alums, friends and family members who flew in from around the country to share the moment, Prewitt, who was presented a huge portrait by Middleburg Athletic Director Casey Thompson and Principal Martin Aftuck, was toured around the gym to see her door display above the entrance way plus a huge banner on the outside wall of the gym's main doors.

"I hope that the things that I put into it, like the hard work, the dedication, the commitment to the players, things like that are what I hope they think about when they walk through the doors," said Prewitt. "If they put those kinds of expectations on themselves knowing the history of the athletes before them, then that's something I would be proud of."

For Forkum, in a county rivalry game with a 7-1 Fleming Island High team that also featured a first-time, alum coach in former Fleming Island High standout Amy Schermerhorn, the game was a typical great rivalry game in the Bronco gym that made her mentor smile.

"Coach Prewitt always prepared us for games like this in her long history here and I think this year's team is very aware of that," said Forkum, who saw her team, led by hitter Connor Rahn's 12 scoring kills with Brooke Forkum, Meredith's junior daughter, adding nine at the net, to a 3-0 win over the Golden Eagles (now 7-2). "Those two are our team leaders and they showed why. Sophomores Kate Lowery, five kills, and Camden Rahn also played well in the very loud gym."

Middleburg's record improves to 8-3; ranked fourth in 5A, with recent wins over Orange Park and Oakleaf in county play with the teams' three losses; 7A-Doral Academy (now 8-4, 20-8 region finalist last year), 3A-Trinity Christian Academy (now 14-2, 25-4 last year region finalist) and 5A-Jensen Beach (now 13-2, 29-3 5A state champion last year), coming in the Nike Invitational Tournament in Tampa early in the season.

For Fleming Island, junior Savannah Jackson tapped out eight scoring kills to lead the Golden Eagles with Emily Topp and Rauly Eason adding four apiece; Eason with three blocks also.

Schermerhorn has guided her Golden Eagles to wins over Fletcher and Creekside thus far with Christ's Church Academy with their lone loss to Buchholz on August 24.

Eason and Jackson have been the 1-2 punch at the net with 81 and 64 kills apiece with Samantha Rupert at 54 kills.

On the schedule for Fleming Island is Bishop Kenny (4A Final Four last year, 5th in 4A 2023), Orange Park and Ridgeview to end September with top contenders. The Ridgeview game will be a good benchmark game as Middleburg and Ridgeview are dominating their district 4-5A but will not play each other in regular season play and Fleming Island is a solid late-season common foe.

Ridgeview, 8-1, ranked third in 5A, with astounding play up front from Haley Robinson, finished with a silver medal at the JJVA River City Classic with the Panthers losing a 2-1 match to Trinity Christian Academy, ranked 13th in Florida and fourth in 3A. The second-place finish was the highest ever for Ridgeview in the prestigious tournament.

"We are getting great play in our defensive back with our Oakleaf transfer Sydney Little," said Ridgeview High coach Steven Henry. "She was a little tentative at first coming in as a senior and not wanting to take a spot, but she is too good (20-25 digs a game) to keep off the court."

Ridgeview advanced through the tournament with wins over 2A-Christ's Church Academy (now 7-5, 2A Final Four last year), Satellite (now 9-4), a Puerto Rico team; Colegio Evangelico Capitan Correa, and 4A-Bolles (7-5). The Puerto Rico team was the defending tournament champion, but was without the size of last year, according to Henry.

Ridgeview is led at the net by Robinson's 81 kills and 52 blocks with Brianna Adams adding 45 kills and Kennedy Baugh with 16 blocks.

Ridgeview coach Steven Henry's schedule gets no rest with a road game to 4A-Bishop Kenny (8-4) on Thurs., Sept. 21, a Friday noon game against Episcopal and then Fleming Island at home Tues., Sept. 26.

"We want to control our games to our strengths," said Henry. "I've seen a few Fleming Island games, but no Middleburg games yet. I try to keep that one a secret so we don't get ahead of ourselves. We block big up front and execute our scoring plays."

Around the county, also at the JJVA River City High School Classic, Orange Park was with one loss until Middleburg came to the Raiderdome, but the Lady Raiders rebounded to finish at 4-1; wins over St. Augustine, Keystone Heights, Belleview and Effingham (GA) (8-2 overall), Clay finished 2-3 with wins over Keystone Heights, St. John Paul II (4-7 overall), Keystone Heights finished 1-4; win over Sandalwood (2-9 overall), Oakleaf finished 4-1; wins over Nease, Sandalwood, St. John Paul II and Newberry (8-3 overall).

St. Johns Country Day School sits at 5-3 with three recent wins over Beaches Chapel, Duval Carter and Harvest Community. The Spartans, led by Brynn White's 63 kills and 15 blocks set up for a gauntlet week with Global Outreach Charter (6-3) on Mon., Sept 18 with Orange Park on Tues., Sept 26 and Ridgeview on Wed., Sept. 27, both on the road.