On a special night at Ooltewah High School, the Lady Owls’ volleyball team turned in a special performance by sweeping visiting Walker Valley 3-0 on Tuesday and clinched the No. 1 seed for the upcoming District 5-AAA tournament.
Ooltewah (32-8, 10-0) posted the impressive 25-15, 25-13 and 25-23 victory while celebrating another “Pink Out” promotion at Ed Foster Gymnasium.
The Lady Owls have two matches remaining with Cleveland and Bradley Central, but every other district opponents have at least three losses. So, Ooltewah will host the tournament as the top-seeded favorite starting on Oct. 7. The district champion will be crowned on Oct. 9.
Coach Elaine Peigen’s squad, which saw Walker Valley win the earlier freshman and junior varsity matches, was determined and simply took care of business.
“We came out strong,” sophomore Alex Biro said. “This is an important night because it means so much to our coach and we got it done. Yeah, we beat them 3-0, but there were some points against us that could have been avoided with better communication and hustle.”
In two of three sets, Walker Valley scored first only to watch the Lady Owls run off eight straight points for the early command. In the opener, Ooltewah extended the lead to 17-5 and had a 23-12 advantage after Courtlyn Ison’s perfectly placed soft shot in an open space on the court.
Ooltewah closed the set out on a Lady Mustangs miscue.
Ooltewah didn’t wait for Walker Valley (17-15, 3-6) to score in the second set, zipping into a 5-0 lead that quickly mushroomed to 17-7 on senior Bethany Spange’s winner. Hanna Matthews pushed the Lady Owls’ margin to 20-8. A Spange kill near the side boundary clinched the set.
Walker Valley opened the third set with a point, but again Ooltewah went on an 8-0 run. An Ison kill gave the Lady Owls a 19-10 margin, but the Lady Mustangs chipped into the lead and rallied to within 22-16.
When Sullivan Sloan’s shot sailed long, Walker Valley was down 22-19 and Nikki Prugh’s winner sliced the Lady Owls’ lead to 22-20.
A Walker Valley error produced Ooltewah’s 23rd point, Biro’s kill put up No. 24 and Biro’s well-placed soft-touch shot ended the match.
“I thought the girls played well because we served much better, kept the ball going and played good defense,” Peigen said. “The chemistry was there tonight and we played well as a team, and we had to do that against a good team like Walker Valley.”
Peigen said the “Pink Out” matches started six years ago as a surprise.
“We’ve kept the tradition going,” she said. “We’ll make a donation to the Mary Ellen Locher Foundation, like we always do, and keep making sure our girls are aware of the impact breast cancer can have on families.”
Walker Valley coach Judy Pruett said the slow starts didn’t help her varsity squad at all.
“We put ourselves in holes all three games,” she said. “When we can’t pass we can’t play with Ooltewah. In that third game we fought and made it close there at the end.”
Ashlyn Flock – 10 assists, 6 digs, 2 kills, and .5 blocks
Alex Rominger - 16 digs, 7 receptions
Abby Campbell - 9 assists, 1 kill, 7 digs, 1 ace
Madison Pruett - 10 digs 5 receptions 3 kills 1 ace
Nikki Prugh - 5 kills, 5 digs, 7 receptions
Alexan Crittenden - 5 kills, 1.5 blocks
Gracie Pierce- 3 aces, 4 digs, 3 receptions
Sara Wilson- 3 digs, 2 receptions, 1 assist
Rachel Lawhorn – 6 kills, 2.5 blocks
Katelin Scoggins – 6 digs, 1 kill
Abbi Mason 3 kills, 1 dig
Mikayla Lumpkin -1 assist, 1 kill
Sloan Sullivan - 3 kills, 9 digs, 5 ace, .5 block
Josie Cain - 19 digs, 2 kills, 1 ace, 1 assist
Summer Williams - 5 digs, 1 ace
Bethany Spange - 3 kills, 12 digs, 2 aces, 1 assist, 1 block
Hanna Matthews - 2 kills, 12 digs, 22 assists
Sidney Killingsworth - 1 kill, 1 assist, 1 block
Alex Biro -11 kills, 1 dig, 1.5 blocks
Courtlyn Ison - 12 kills, 1 dig, .5 block
Emily Grace Thompson - 3 aces
Kailin Higgins - 1 ace, 1 dig
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)