The Notre Dame Fighting Irish volleyball team went to Chattanooga Christian last Thursday for its final district match of the season and with a lot on the line.
A win would have 1) given the Lady Irish the number one seed in this week's tournament; 2) allowed them to host the tournament and 3) given them the outright championship for the regular season, but the Lady Chargers prevailed in three straight sets to totally offset those ideas.
As a result of Thursday's match, Signal Mountain is now the top seed and will host the tournament on Tuesday.
Notre Dame was bumped down to the number three seed, forcing a playin match at home on Monday.
Despite a little detour in the original plans, Notre Dame defeated visiting Sequatchie County by a 3-1 final in the John Steiner Sr. Gymnasium and will get another chance late Tuesday afternoon for another shot at the Lady Chargers.
The Lady Irish weren't exactly on their "A" game at the start, but somehow prevailed by a 25-20 final. The Lady Indians got untracked and did most everything right in the second set to post a 25-19 win before Notre Dame rebounded for wins by scores of 25-10 and 25-11 in the final two sets to win the match.
"We obviously started slow tonight, but we've had lulls like that all year," said Notre Dame coach Ted Hackett after his team improved to 13-19 overall.
"It's tough to beat the same team three times in one season and Sequatchie County has improved a whole lot since the first time we played them. But we were making way too many unforced errors and I told them during a timeout that it was up to them to decide how they wanted this match to end.
"I think that loss in the second set may have gotten our attention, but Sequatchie County didn't come over here today to just lay down. We cut down on those errors the rest of the way, but I'm glad we had this match today as we needed another day of competition.
"Now we need to focus on Tuesday's match with Chattanooga Christian. I look forward to seeing how we respond," Hackett concluded.
Signal Mountain will face the winner of Monday's match between Grundy County and Bledsoe County in Tuesday's first match at 4 with the CCS-Notre Dame match to follow. The winner of those two matches will then square off for the 7-AA tournament championship and the right to host the Region 4-AA tournament next week.
But back to Monday's match.
Notre Dame never trailed in the first set, although the Lady Indians stayed within striking distance.
Karly Cordell's kill allowed Sequatchie to get within 14-12 before Notre Dame finally pulled away.
The Lady Irish got three straight service points, including an ace, from Ragen Dobson to start the second set and looked to be on their way to another win after that lead had stretched to 8-4.
That's when the Lady Indians caught fire.
With Kylie Ables reeling off 10 straight service points, the visitors from Dunlap turned that four-point deficit into a six-point lead. Ashley Moffitt added five service points, including a pair of aces, a few minutes later as the Lady Indians extended the lead to 19-11.
Notre Dame never recovered and all of a sudden, the match was tied at one set apiece.
That's when Hackett got the attention of his young squad.
Khadejay Sivels, one of three Notre Dame seniors to be honored before the match began, made a huge contribution from the service line and was instrumental in her team's success in the final two sets.
She had five straight points in set three which allowed an 11-5 lead to stretch to 16-5 before Stephanie Bouchard ended it with a kill to put Notre Dame up, 2-1.
Then in the final set, Sivels put on a serving exhibition with nine straight points, including six aces, as Notre Dame's lead went from 11-5 to 20-5 and the Lady Irish advanced to tomorrow's semis a few minutes later.
Sequatchie County coach Karilynn Monger saw a lot of positives, even though her team finished its season with only four wins and no wins in the district.
"It could have been better, but I'm extremely proud of the way we battled today," she began.
"We struggle with finishing at times, but if we could have played the entire match the way we played in the second set, we might have won as everything was working at that point. We've drastically improved since the beginning of the season and we have every right to keep our heads up, but at least we went out with a bang.
"Nobody expected us to win a set, much less this match, so that's a step in the right direction," the coach concluded on a positive note.
Katlin Davis set the pace for the Lady Indians with 13 assists and nine digs while Moffitt contributed 10 digs, a dozen assists and three aces.
Ables finished with five kills, five digs, two blocks and an ace.
For Notre Dame, Dobson had 24 assists to go along with 10 digs, four aces and three kills. Randi Clement and Bouchard both finished with eight kills while Danika Dorris had 15 digs.
Sivels finished with nine aces and seven digs.
Dorris and Bouchard were the other two seniors who were honored along with Sivels.
SEQUATCHIE COUNTY STATS:
Katlin Davis -- 3 aces, 9 digs, 13 assists;
Karly Cordell -- 2 aces, 6 digs;
Kylie Ables -- 1 ace, 5 digs, 5 kills, 2 blocks;
Ashley Moffitt -- 3 aces, 10 digs, 12 assists;
Jennifer Condra -- 1 ace, 7 digs, 2 kills;
Ireland Burch -- 6 digs, 4 kills, 2 blocks.
NOTRE DAME STATS:
Khadejah Sivels -- 9 aces, 7 digs;
Ragen Dobson -- 4 aces, 3 kills, 24 assists, 10 digs;
Keri Klassen -- 2 aces, 2 digs;
Randi Clement -- 8 kills;
Michaela Guice -- 3 digs;
Tess Scobey -- 4 kills;
Mallory Hein -- 4 kills, 11 digs;
Danika Dorris -- 1 ace, 1 kill, 15 digs;
Kayle Stone -- 2 aces, 4 kills, 1 assist, 1 dig;
Stephanie Bouchard -- 3 aces, 8 kills, 1 block, 7 digs.
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)