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Four District 1 teams in the hunt for state volleyball glory

Tanner Cook • Updated Oct 21, 2019 at 12:30 PM

Northeast Tennessee and District 1 will be well represented at this week’s TSSAA state volleyball tournament in Murfreesboro, as four teams qualified by winning their respective sectional matches.

In Class AAA, Dobyns-Bennett will be ’Boro bound for the second straight year and the 11th time in program history. The Lady Indians last won the title in 2009 and had another title appearance the following year in 2010.

The Tribe defeated Ravenwood in straight sets in the 2009 title game, but lost to the Lady Raptors the next season in the same fashion.

Daniel Boone punched its ticket to the big dance for the first time since 1998 and for the first time as a Class AAA school when they took out Farragut on the road last Thursday. The Lady Trailblazers hadd two runner-up finishes in 1976 and 1997.

In 1976 — in a cutthroat one-classification tournament — the Lady ’Blazers lost to Chattanooga Kirkman 2-0 back when it was a best-of-three for a win.

Boone didn’t reach the title game again for 21 years and Livingston Academy took the Blazers down in the 1997 championship match in three sets.

In Class AA, Sullivan South makes its 31st state appearance and is seeking the school’s sixth state championship.

This is the fifth consecutive appearance for the Lady Rebels, with the last title coming in 2015.

In Class A, South Greene is making its 15th appearance in Murfreesboro and 11th straight. The Lady Rebels have five runner-up finishes to their credit — all of them coming at the hands of private schools.

LADY INDIANS MEET AN OLD FOE

In the opening round Tuesday morning, the Lady Indians will meet one of the Williamson County powers in Ravenwood.

First serve is set for 10:30 a.m. Eastern time in Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center on Court 2.

The Lady Raptors (29-10) have a balance of youth and experience with six underclassmen and eight upperclassmen on the roster.

Statistically, senior outside Madison Bidwell leads the team with 377 kills on the season, averaging 3.1 per set and is hitting .174 for the year.

On defense, middle blocker Kelsie Dawson has 118 blocks on the season and averages just over three per match.

Ravenwood has two primary ball handlers as Carly Cooper leads the team with 689 assists and Madison Wilhoit has 436 helpers this year.

The Lady Indians (22-8) will counter with four players that have over 150 kills on the season. Hannah Watson leads the way with 234 while region tournament MVP Staley Humphries is not far behind with 225. Both missed significant playing time this year due to multiple injuries. Sithney Wolfe has 200 kills and Meg Maynor has poured in 171 on the season.

Rylee Waye has showed the way all season with 796 assists and has just 15 errors.

On defense, the intimidating Watson leads D-B with 62 blocks on the year. Maynor is second with 38.

If the Tribe were to win, they would face the winner of of Germantown-Houston and Cookeville, two teams that D-B eliminated in last year’s tournament run to the eventual losers bracket final.

BOONE FACES THE CHAMPS

There was good news and bad news for the Lady ’Blazers (29-6) upon reaching Murfreesboro.

The good news is that they made it for the first time in 21 years.

The bad news is that they drew the six-time defending state champion Brentwood in the first round of the tournament. The first serve is set for 1:30 p.m. Eastern time in the Murphy Center, also on Court 2.

Brentwood has an impressive 14 state championships and has appeared in every Class AAA title match since 2012. The Lady Bruins overall state tournament record is 100-18. They are one of the top 20 high school volleyball programs in the nation.

Lady Bruins head coach Barbara Campbell has the most coaching victories in the history of the state, beginning 2019 with 1,674 victories in 30 seasons.

Brentwood (50-3) is led on offense by junior Shaye Eggleston with an eye-popping 768 kills on the season. She is hitting an unbelievable .350 and has only made 198 errors on 1,627 attempts on the year. She is committed to the University of Alabama, now under the direction of former East Tennessee State head coach Lindsey Devine.

Rylie Kael is second on the team with 352 kills on the season.

Brentwood has won 21 consecutive state tournament matches and has dropped a total of nine sets in the big dance in the last five seasons.

Boone has been pretty steady all season behind the senior leadership of Jaycie Jenkins, Greyson Stevens, Mackenzie Sweigart and Laken Jones. The Lady ’Blazers will need to play nearly flawless in order to pull off the upset. 

District tournament MVP McKenna Dietz is the added extra weapon on both offense and defense and will play a critical role in the match. Her counterpart on the other side for Brentwood, Piper Drazek — an Army commit — is the unquestioned senior leader for the Lady Bruins, according to Campbell. 

If Boone were to win, they would face the winner of Collierville and Cleveland.

SOUTH DRAWS LADY CAVS

The Lady Rebels (26-14) easily swept through the postseason and drew Crockett County in the first round at the Murphy Center at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time on Court 1.

The Lady Cavaliers are in the state tournament field for the first time since 2013, but history says that they face a very large task.

Crockett County (34-12) comes in with an 0-17 state tournament record in seven appearances and at one point did not claim a set win for nearly 11 years. 

The Lady Rebels have not won an opening-round game since 2016 when they beat Signal Mountain in three sets. 

South has been led on offense all season by King University commit Abbey Jayne, and junior Katie Watson has stepped up her play in the postseason.

The two primary ball handlers Makki Compton and Olivia Delung have been steady all year. The newcomers for South have really been the story of the season.

Izzy Musick, Suzie Chatman, Molly Williams and Bradley Warner have all seen significant playing time this year and have helped out tremendously on defense, which has been shaky at times in the regular season.

If the Lady Rebels were to win, they would face the winner of Nolensville and Livingston Academy. In the top half of the bracket lies the two-time defending champion Portland Lady Panthers.

The Lady Panthers have won six consecutive state tournament matches, including three times over former Class AA power Knox Catholic. Portland also has an opening-round win over Sullivan South just last season. 

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