Libby Smith Leads Berean To State Volleyball Title

Freshman MVP Outstanding As Lady Eagles Win TAACS Championship

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 - by John Hunt
The Berean Academy Lady Eagles celebrate a state championship in volleyball recently in Murfreesboro.
The Berean Academy Lady Eagles celebrate a state championship in volleyball recently in Murfreesboro.

Beth Ware has been the volleyball coach for the Berean Academy Lady Eagles for the past four years and her team has finished closer and closet to the top in the Tennessee Athletic Association of Christian Schools tournament.

They finished fourth the first year and third the second.  They were runner-up last year, so you can just guess that they won it all in her fourth year as their leader.

Such was the case in Murfreesboro a couple of weeks ago as the Lady Eagles defeated Franklin Road Christian Academy in three straight sets to claim their first state title and the first ever in the history of the school, a private christian school located off Highway 153 just past Northgate.

Berean has about 300 students in grades K-12, which means there are less than 80 students in grades 9-12 from which to field a volleyball team.

The record wasn't all that impressive as they won 23 matches against a dozen defeats, but when push came to shove and the most important matches were being played, the Lady Eagles came through with nerves of steel as they prevailed by scores of 25-20, 25-18 and 25-20.

Libby Smith was selected as the tournament most valuable player while Alicia Baird was also selected for the All-Tournament team.  Both are freshmen.

Berean had lost to this same Franklin Road team in the finals last year, so to come back to beat the defending champs in their own gym just made it that much more special.

"It was a fun environment as the gym was packed.  We had made friends with another team, so they were cheering for us in the finals which helped offset their home-court advantage," the coach recalled.

"It was a little nerve-wracking, knowing that we had to beat the best team in their own gym, but everything worked out just fine.

Speaking of those talented ninth graders, six of Berean's 10 varsity players this fall are freshmen.  They also have three pretty good sophomores.

Jasa Allen, a 5-4 sparkplug who serves as one of their setters, is the only senior on the team.

Emme Woodward, Bailee Redden and Lydia Johnson are all sophomores while Rheagan Kean, Kayleigh Heaton, Anna Shorle, Abigail Schremp join Smith and Baird as the six freshmen.

Berean finished second in the region tournament to Tri-Cities, a team from Bristol, but the Lady Eagles didn't have to play them again in the state tournament.

Playing perhaps their best volleyball of the season, the Lady Eagles were unbeaten in the tournament with three straight wins.

"We had a really good season as we're the first team ever from Berean to win a state title.  That's why it's such a big deal for us," Ware said after school was dismissed Tuesday afternoon.

"We graduated six seniors from last year's state runner-up, but I could tell from the beginning of the season that we'd have a strong team.  Last year we just didn't have that killer instinct, but consistent hitting was the key this year.  We never let up and just seemed to hit it harder in tight situations," the coach continued.

Allen is a four-year starter who was on Ware's first team.

"We started here together, but she's a consistent, all-around good player who really stepped up as our leader this year.  She's kind of quiet, but she's calm and cool-headed in tough situations and she was great with our younger girls.

"Our season started off kind of rough, but we definitely improved as the season went on.  I'm not sure the final was our best performance, but it had to be our best match simply because of the outcome," Ware continued.

"Volleyball is just a sport, but it's a gift from the Lord to be able to play and win like we did.  This is really a special group of young ladies and we didn't have any grade issues to worry about.

"They are all just great kids, but I guess we created a lot of pressure for ourselves concerning next year.  I guess we'll just have to go back up there and prove ourselves again," Ware concluded.

(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)

 



State Soccer Sectionals, Quarterfinals Set For Saturday

Six Division I and four Division II local soccer teams will be playing on Saturday to earn a spot in the next round of the TSSAA state tournaments which will be played in Murfreesboro this week.  Division I teams are playing in state sectionals with the winners advancing to their respective class' state quarterfinals which start on Wednesday in Murfreesboro.  Division ... (click for more)

No. 17 Lee Wins 1-0 Over UAH

  The No. 17 Lee University women’s soccer team controlled nearly every facet of Friday night’s Gulf South Conference (GSC) match against The University of Alabama in Huntsville, but needed a goal by Kelsey Yoder with just over five minutes remaining to record the 1-0 victory. The match was part of the annual Kickin’ It for Kids with Cancer event to benefit the Austin Hatcher ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain To Hold Public Meetings On Idea Of Setting Up Own School System

Discussion about follow-up public meetings regarding the Signal Mountain School System Viability Committee (SMSSVC) report dominated the council’s work session on Friday afternoon. Council member Dan Landrum’s opinion about how to proceed differed from the other four council members. Mr. Landrum argued to end the study and to hold no public meetings. His reason was that of the 738 ... (click for more)

Man Shot Multiple Times In Cleveland; Jesus Teague, 14, Is Wanted

On Saturday, at 6:12 a.m., Cleveland Police Department responded to 1210 Elrod Place SE in reference to a domestic disturbance.   A man sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to Erlanger by Life Force. His condition is stable, at this time.   The suspect, Jesus Tyler Teague, 14, is still at large and considered armed and dangerous. ... (click for more)

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Myth And Fact Check

My husband and I recently had the privilege of participating in the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Chattanooga. I listened as my husband told the audience about how his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was nine and how she died from the disease when he was fourteen. As a child, my husband didn’t understand what breast cancer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Bill Pennington, a sports writer for the New York Times, was lamenting the “huddle” is slowly disappearing in football due to the faster pace of the game and, during his search for more information, he called former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. Bill wrote that Joe couldn’t stop laughing about the funny things that would happen between plays. Joe told this story: ... (click for more)