The Dobyns-Bennett middle hitter took over parts of the winners’ bracket final on Thursday against host Daniel Boone.
Whitson had 25 kills and three blocks to lead the Lady Indians to a 3-2 (28-30, 25-22, 25-20, 26-28, 15-8) win over the Lady ’Blazers.
The good news for Boone besides having still having another shot at the title today is that both teams have already advanced to the regional round.
But the Lady ’Blazers, who have dedicated this season to the memory of teammate Kaylee Rabun who was killed in a Sept. 10 car accident, really wanted to end it on Thursday.
Kaitlyn Harville had seven kills and one block in the first set which the ’Blazers gutted out a 30-28 decision. But, D-B made the changes in stopping her little drop shots in what ended as a five-set thriller.
“She did well on those and then they started picking them up,” Boone coach Chelsea Spivey said. “When that happens, the other team has to fix it and we didn’t fix it.”
Still, Boone hung in their until the end. They led most of the second set before the Lady Indians rallied to take it away.
D-B jumped out early in both the third and fourth sets, but Boone had enough to win the fourth by the 26-24 margin.
Several players contributed to the Boone effort, led by Mackenzie Carrier with 17 kills and 12 digs.
Sara Humphrey had 14 kills and five blocks, while Harville finished with 11 kills, three blocks and seven digs.
Makayla Ledford finished with 38 assists and 24 digs. Whitney Sams and Victoria Barnett also had double-digit efforts with 18 and 12 digs, respectively.
Other Boone efforts included Lindsey Laughren with four kills, four blocks and seven digs and Jada Bledsoe with six digs.
“When you’re playing against good teams, you can’t go down as much as we did and fight back,” Spivey said. “We did fight and tie them back up. But, we were gassed and couldn’t finish off the match.”
The Lady Indians weren’t exactly breathing easy themselves.
D-B had to beat a determined Sullivan Central team 3-1 (25-18, 25-13, 22-25, 26-24) in an earlier match to get to the winners’ final.
Against Boone, it was clear that Whitson would be the focal point of the Lady Indians’ offense.
“She brings just so much positive energy,” D-B coach Megan Devine said. “She carries us a lot of the time. I’ve been blessed with two great middles and they did a great job.”
Abby Byington was the other middle hitter Devine was referring to. She added another 13 kills for D-B, while Sydney Carrier provided 52 assists and 17 digs.
Olivia McMakin had 30 digs and six aces. Other defensive leaders include Chloe Harless with 20 digs and Morgan Rogers with 17 digs.
“Olivia, you can’t say enough about that girl,” Devine said. “She is the heart and soul and gets to whatever ball we ask her to get to. Then, our serve and pass game was working well. A lot of times that’s why we’ve been successful this year. But Boone, they’re an awesome team and they brought it, and we’re ready to go tomorrow.”