The Signal Mountain volleyball team had a pretty good day Saturday at Hixson, but so did teams from Lookout Valley, Silverdale and Sale Creek.
The Lady Eagles remained unbeaten after eight matches as they slipped past upset-minded Lookout Valley for first place in the Gold division in the annual Hixson Invitational.
The Lady Seahawks from Silverdale were winners in the Silver division as they came from behind to beat Sale Creek.
Signal Mountain, Red Bank and Lookout Valley all won their respective pools, but Signal Mountain beat Red Bank in the semifinals to earn the right to face Lookout Valley.
The Lady Eagles beat Red Bank by scores of 25-17 and 25-19 while Sale Creek beat Hixson in three sets to advance to the Silver finals. Hixson won the first set by a 25-20 final before the Lady Panthers rallied for a 25-23 win in the second and a 15-11 win in the critical third.
Signal Mountain beat Lookout Valley, 2-1, with the Lady Eagles winning the first set by 25-13 and the Lady Jackets taking the second by 25-23. Then in the third, Signal Mountain was able to rally to pull out the 16-14 victory.
Sale Creek won the first set against Silverdale by a 25-20 final before the Lady Seahawks won the next two by scores of 25-18 and 16-14.
Lookout Valley, improving to 6-1 overall including 3-1 on Saturday, played toe-to-toe with the much-taller Signal Mountain squad and even led 5-0 in the third set.
The Lady Eagles slowly came back and tied the score at 13-all on a kill by Taelor Kellum. Another monster smash by the slender senior knotted the score at 14. Then with her team holding a 15-14 advantage, Kellum put down the match winner to close the deal.
"That was too stressful to suit me," said Signal Mountain coach Jennifer Redman following that last win.
"Lookout Valley played extremely well and they made us play. We let up and started coasting and just got down too many points in the second set, but we hung in there and were able to pull it out.
"Taelor was absolutely awesome and I'm so glad that she's on my team, but it's been a long day and I'm happy to be headed home," she added.
Lookout Valley coach Pat Conard admitted before that final match that she was more surprised than anyone for her team to be in the championship match of the top division. She was still pretty upbeat after finishing second.
"We had three bad serves in a row at the end and that hurt," she responded when asked about the one that got away at the end.
"I'm very pleased as we played with a lot of heart, but we have to learn that we must play aggressively the whole time. We have a lot of jumpers on this team, but we're really vertically challenged," she concluded with a smile.
Kellum dominated play up front and finished with 19 kills to lead Signal Mountain while Aryn Sanders had 22 digs and Amanda Thielges had 25 assists.
Savannah Walker had five kills and seven digs to lead Lookout Valley while Katelyn Mitchell had four kills, eight digs, two aces and an assist.
Silverdale was 3-1 on Saturday with its only loss to Lookout Valley. The Lady Seahawks were really thin on the bench with only one sub as one was sick, two were out of town and another had to leave early to attend her own birthday party.
Still, the Lady Seahawks played with a lot of heart and they pulled through when the odds were stacked against them.
"We finished okay, but it was a long day. We had a four-hour break between our last two matches, but I'm proud of the way they stayed focused during the break," said Silverdale coach Nathan Daugherty.
"In all honesty, I would have rather been playing in the Gold division, but I'm glad we were able to win the Silver. Kayleigh Page and Emma Dale are both freshmen who really played well while Molly Rumfelt and Caroline Couch were all over the place and hustled all day long," he added.
Sale Creek coach Debbie Hill could have been happier at the end.
"Inconsistency killed us. We play like a million dollars one minute and 15 cents the next, but we can be as good as anybody else when we're on," Hill said afterward.
"We're still making the same mistakes we were making at the start and we need to play with a little bigt more enthusiasm, but we played not to lose and you can't do that in volleyball if you expect to be successful," she added.
SIGNAL MOUNTAIN STATS VS. LOOKOUT VALLEY
Aryn Sanders -- 22 digs
Kennedy Collick -- 4 kills, 7 digs
Aubrie Johnson -- 5 kills
Taelor Kellum -- 19 kills, 8 digs, 1 block
Hallie Hunt -- 2 kills, 12 digs
Sidney Lapinski -- 9 digs, 9 assists
Amanda Thielges -- 25 assists, 5 digs
Natalie Greve -- 9 digs.
LOOKOUT VALLEY STATS VS. SIGNAL MOUNTAIN
Savannah Walker -- 1 ace, 5 kills, 2.5 blocks, 1 assist, 7 digs
Brianna Evers -- 2 aces, 1 kill, 6 digs
Taylor Hoge -- 4 kills, 5 digs
Katelyn Mitchell -- 2 aces, 4 kills, 1 assist, 8 digs
Annie Marr -- 1 kill, 15 assists, .5 block, 4 digs
Elexis Foster -- 3 kills, 1 block, 13 digs.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)