Wham! Boom! Bam! Thanks for coming down.
East Hamilton’s Lady Hurricanes, battling for the second seed in next week’s District 5-AAA tournament at Ooltewah, didn’t give visiting Bradley Central a chance and crushed the lethargic Bearettes, 3-0, on Thursday.
So dominant was the Lady Hurricanes’ performance that Bradley Central led one time the entire match – a 2-1 advantage in the third set. The lead lasted all of 12 seconds because East Hamilton quickly tied the match at 2-all, scored 23 of the next 29 points and cruised to a match-clinching 25-8 win.
East Hamilton won the first two sets 25-8, 25-15.
“We haven’t played any better than this against Bradley Central,” said East Hamilton’s Briley Considine, one of three seniors playing their final regular-season home match. “We played them in our second match of the season and they killed us because we played like crap. We played pretty good tonight.”
However, Soddy-Daisy posted a 3-1 win at Walker Valley, and claimed the No. 2 seed based on regular season head-to-head matches. The Lady Trojans beat East Hamilton, 3-0. The Lady Hurricanes defeated Soddy-Daisy, 3-1. They will third-seeded.
That one-set difference rankles Lady Hurricanes coach Kristy Lenoir.
“Because when we played them early at their place we were up 17-4 in the first game and lost,” Lenoir said. “It boils down to that one loss, a game we just could not finish.”
The top three seeds will be Ooltewah (33-8, 12-0), which receives a first-round bye, Soddy-Daisy (39-16, 8-4) and East Hamilton (24-16, 8-4) and the tournament begins Monday afternoon with two matches.
The seedings – one through seven – will be finalized at a coaches meeting Friday in Ooltewah, but the first-day schedule unofficially looks like this:
Fourth-seeded Cleveland will play No. 5 Bradley Central at 4:30 p.m., followed by East Hamilton against No. 6 Walker Valley at 6 p.m. and Soddy-Daisy versus No. 12 McMinn County at 7:30 p.m.
Second-round action is set for Tuesday and the championship match will be held on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
“For our first year in 5-AAA and be on the side of the bracket we wanted, we’re the smallest school in the district and I’m not complaining at all,” Lenoir said.
An irritated Bradley Central coach Christy McElhaney sure was.
“(East Hamilton) played well and we literally didn’t show up,” she said. “For the talent that goes on that floor at any given time, it’s never been this ugly.”
The Lady Hurricanes never took their foot off the gas pedal and a green-and-black dump truck ran roughshod over the Bearettes.
“I’m not sure it was our best game,” sophomore Emma Lenoir said. “But we played pretty good. And our seniors left happy.”
Those seniors – Considine, Sydney Harris and Brenna Shaw – were honored prior to Thursday’s match and two made solid contributions to the impressive victory.
Considine had three kills, four digs, two aces and one block. Harris finished with 15 assists, seven digs, three kills and two aces.
Despite matches on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Lady Hurricanes recalled before the match their sub-par performance against the Bearettes back on Aug. 20.
It served as a big dose of motivation.
“Bradley was hitting a lot of balls out and we really picked up our game,” Considine said. “I’m proud of the team and hopefully next week will be good for us. We’re pushing big-time to get to state.”
The tone was set early.
East Hamilton jumped out to a 5-0 lead, it went to 8-3 and the run eventually stretched to 13-4 and Bradley Central (21-19, 5-7) was buried in a 21-7 hole.
The last four points in that stretch resulted from two kills sailing long, an error and a shot flying side-out by the Bearettes. Lisa Duvall’s kill produced Bradley’s eighth point, but the Lady Hurricane’s final four points came off Harris’ kill and Considine’s block of a Brooke Copeland shot at the net and out-of-bounds shots by Monica Johnson and Copeland.
In the second set, before the Bearettes could blink, the Lady Hurricanes went up 5-0, 10-3, 17-9, 20-13 and finally 25-15.
East Hamilton was sending a message – loud and clear.
“We wanted to come in here and take care of business,” Kristy Lenoir said. “I think it helped that it was senior night. Those three seniors were motivated, the kids wanted to play well and we had a good crowd.”
East Hamilton’s Emma Lenoir, the coach’s daughter, opened the third set with a powerful kill – her trademark – and the Bearettes’ Rebecca Reuter, who will play college basketball at Middle Tennessee State University, answered with one of her own.
Copeland, a University of Florida basketball signee, smacked a winning kill to give Bradley a 2-1 lead, their only advantage of the day.
“I can live with that,” coach Lenoir said of Bradley’s short-lived lead. “I wish we could do that every match. I would be a lot less stressed.”
Said McElhaney, “It’s extremely disappointing. This should be the time of the season you’re peaking. We started the year without all our starters and it seems like we were at our peak. Now that we have all our starters, it seems like we’re at the very bottom.”
Just seconds later, Lenoir whacked a kill and Miranda Roberson had back-to-back service winners and the Lady Hurricanes were off and running again.
Maybe East Hamilton was thinking back to August and vowing they wouldn’t blow another lead.
“Up at Bradley we missed 15 serves and I can’t tell you how many aces Bradley served, but it was a lot, against us,” Kristy Lenoir said. “Our poor serving and Bradley’s good serving took us out of that match.”
When the Bearettes’ Rachael Garrett’s serve netted, the Lady Hurricanes’ lead was 14-7.
East Hamilton scored 11 of the next 12 points to put the match away.
“These girls have to have the heart to go on, have heart to win big games and that’s all we have left – big games,” McElhaney said, visibly rocked by her team’s poor play. “If they don’t have heart, there’s no need to be out there.
“And if they don’t have the heart, I wish they’d stay home. You have to lay it all on the line right now, leave everything on the court. If they’re not willing to do that, they shouldn’t be on the court.”
Sydney Harris – 15 assists, 3 kills, 7 digs, 2 aces
Briley Considine – 3 kills, 4 digs, 2 aces, 1 block
Miranda Roberson – 1 kill, 1 dig, 1 ace, 1 block
Emma Lenoir – 13 kills, 7 digs, 6 assists, 1 ace, 1 block
Somer Batten – 1 kill, 10 digs, 1 ace
Meredith Stott – 5 kills
Kris Joo – 6 digs
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)