Cox Mill junior Meredith Furr fondly remembers the fashion in which her Harris Road Middle volleyball team won the conference tournament championship her eighth-grade year.
Down two games to none to rival C.C. Griffin in the best-of-five match, Furr said, she helped convince her teammates they could still rally for victory. They did.
"I am a very competitive person," she said. "I do not like to lose at all. I grew up that way through all the sports I play."
It's that kind of stubbornness that drives Furr to be the player she is: an all-conference-caliber setter and captain of a team that could contend for a South Piedmont Conference championship this season.
Furr was influenced by her role-model sister, Katie, who played at Northwest Cabarrus and graduated in 2008. Separated by five years in age, the Furr sisters often practiced hitting and passing volleyball in the backyard and in the driveway.
Growing up shorter than her peers, Furr believes she was destined to play setter. Her height never caught up to that of her teammates, but her desire to play at their altitude at the net did.
An impressive vertical leap makes Furr a multi-dimensional player. She's a setter that can put away a kill with some of the best front-line players.
Furr has played for three coaches in three years at Cox Mill, including her freshman year, when expectations, she said, were low for the first-year Chargers team. She served as a captain for a team that finished in the middle of the SPC. Furr was named all-conference.
For the 2010 season - Cox Mill's first with a senior class - the 12th-graders were named team co-captains. As the team's Most Valuable Player, Furr helped the Chargers to a fourth-place conference finish and a 12-13 overall record. They reached the 3A state playoffs for the first time but lost to West Iredell in the first round.
With Cox Mill in need of some younger leadership again this season, Furr was selected a team captain for the second time in three years. A month into the season, the Chargers were 7-4 (4-1 in the South Piedmont).
Cox Mill coach Jason Sims, who was the Chargers' junior varsity coach last season, showers Furr's dedication and effort with superlatives.
"... She has the heart and drive of a player I've never been around before," Sims said. "... Even as a freshman, she never came off the floor just because of her energy and willingness to get after it."
Furr especially takes pride in her aggressiveness at the net, exercising specifically to increase her vertical leap so she can hold her own against taller hitters.
"Every setter loves to hit the ball as well," said Furr. "For me to play front row is kind of a big deal. Most schools pull the setter out when she reaches the front row."
Furr takes being a student-athlete seriously, too, serving in the Beta and AWSUM Clubs at Cox Mill and sporting a 4.0 grade-point average while taking honors and AP classes.
The Carolina Storm volleyball club player also competes in the triple jump and 300-meter hurdles for the Cox Mill track-and-field team in the spring.
Keeping her competitive juices flowing outside those traditional sports is her participation in competitive mule riding. Furr has been riding since she was 5 and has won eight world championships.
Maybe it's from her mule that she gets her stubbornness about winning and losing.