Greeneville’s Lady Greene Devils used that momentum in the beginning of the match to go up 10-5 early on in the first set over the Sullivan South Lady Rebels.
However, there was never any panic for South.
It was epitomized by the smiling face of libero Meredith St. Clair, who has been an outstanding defensive performer all year and came up big in what would be a 3-0 South sweep (25-23, 25-23 and 25-11).
“Greeneville came out strong and they’re a good team,” South head coach Wendy Ratliff said. “They came at us hard and we were just playing too much defense. They made us nervous, but our seniors really stepped up. We have a lot of girls that play with a lot of maturity.”
The Lady Rebels did eventually seize the lead in the opening set at 22-21, but it was a hard-fought win.
For Greeneville, once the Lady Rebels came back, it was almost like the air went out of the building and the home team never recovered.
The second set was close, but South always had an answer when the Lady Devils got close. Although it tied the match several times, Greeneville never held the lead in the second set. There was always a spurt by South or a string of mistakes by Greeneville.
Fittingly, St. Clair ended the second set with an ace right down the heart of the Greeneville back line.
The third set was all Lady Rebels from the the first serve as they went up 4-0 early and stretched the lead to as many as 14 points near the end.
Near the end, the long faces of the Lady Devils were far from the pumped-up looks of the beginning of the first set.
South’s Maddie Townsend was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after totaling eight kills and five digs in the finals.
Abbey Jayne finished her night with 16 kills and nine digs. St. Clair amassed 24 digs, one ace and one kill while Halle Dykes had 15 digs.
Greeneville advanced in the first match of the evening with a thrilling five-set win over Elizabethton. The Lady Cyclones rallied from down two sets to pull into a tie, but ultimately came up short.
The Lady Cyclones ended their season 24-16, one win shy of beating the school record for wins.
Morgan Smith had 23 kills, 10 assists and nine digs to lead Elizabethton. Both she and Sydney Goodsell were named to the all-tournament team.
The Lady Rebels advanced to the finals with a quick sweep of Northview Academy. The Lady Cougars were simply overmatched as Jayne had 11 kills, two assists and three digs for the Lady Rebels in those semis.
The Lady Rebels will host the loser of Knox Catholic or Anderson County while Greeneville journeys to the winner.
“We did not want to go to Knoxville. That was motivation enough,” Ratliff said.