It's a real challenge for a high school volleyball team to get up emotionally and physically to play the same team two matches in a row, especially when the first one was somewhat lopsided.
But that was what the Ooltewah Lady Owls had to do Tuesday evening when they visited District 5-AAA rival Soddy Daisy.
Ooltewah improved to 12-2 overall and 4-0 in 5-AAA with the three-set sweep, but the Lady Owls weren't as sharp as they have been and certainly not as aggressive as they were Saturday when they beat Soddy Daisy in the Choo Choo Tournament.
Soddy Daisy was playing without two starters, including seniors Hannah Robertson and Chloe Mitchell. Robertson, the team Libero, was sidelined with a concussion while Mitchell, the team's normal setter, was on the bench with muscle spasms in her neck.
Despite that fact, the Lady Trojans played toe-to-toe with the Lady Owls in the first set and even built a 14-9 following seven-straight service points by Abby Walker, but Ooltewah recovered from a tie at 20 to score five of the final six points for the 25-21 victory in the first one.
The second set wasn't nearly as close as Ooltewah bolted to a 6-1 lead before Soddy Daisy coach Lorri Johnson called a timeout. That didn't seem to slow the Lady Owls as they streaked to a 19-7 lead before winning comfortably, 25-12.
The Lady Trojans then scored the first point of the third set before Ooltewah took the lead and the Lady Owls never trailed again. Soddy Daisy stayed within striking distance, but could never get any closer than two points as the Lady Owls pulled out the third and deciding set, 25-20.
Despite the win, Ooltewah coach Elaine Peigen wasn't all that happy with the way her team performed.
"We got off to a slow start and I just didn't feel like they came ready to play," the veteran coach said matter of factly.
"Soddy Daisy has a good team and I know they were missing a couple of key players, but we just struggled today. We have to come with our 'A' game every day in this district.
"Josie Cain had some great digs and I thought that Hannah Henderson made some nice plays, but everybody contributed to this win. We're pleased to get the win, but we aren't satisfied as we still have a lot of things to work on," Peigen added.
Soddy Daisy's Johnson knew from the beginning that it would be an uphill fight against a good Ooltewah team.
"We just have to get well, but a match like this will just help us to get better. We just have to learn how to handle playing under adverse conditions," she began.
"We hung with them for the first 20 points in the first set, but we made some mistakes that really hurt. That totally deflated us. We didn't play very well in the second set as we started out with some bad passes, but I thought we played with a lot of heart in the third. We could have just laid down and quit after that second one, but we didn't.
"I was pleased with our fight at the end," Johnson added.
Courtlyn Ison, surely one of the best front-line hitters in the state, set the pace for Ooltewah with 16 kills and 11 digs. Alex Biro played well and finished with 11 kills while Cain was credited with 23 digs and Hanna Matthews 29 assists.
Karigan Fulghum led the way for Soddy Daisy with eight kills and nine digs.
Lauren Smith finished with 15 digs while Kirstie Williams had 17 assists.
Soddy Daisy is now 14-8 overall and 3-2 in district play. The Lady Trojans will be in action again on Wednesdy when they host Hixson while Ooltewah will be at home on Thursday for their "Pink Out" match against Walker Valley.
Kailin Higgins -- 3 digs, 1 ace
Summer Williams -- 3 digs, 3 aces
Hanna Matthews -- 2 kills 6 digs, 2 aces, 29 assists
Alex Biro -- 11 kills, 2.5 blocks
Josie Cain -- 23 digs, 1 ace, 3 assists
Alexis Godsey -- 5 digs, 5 aces
Hannah Henderson -- 7 kills, 1 block
Sidney Killingsworth -- 3 kills, 1/2 block
Allie Jones -- 2 kills, 1 block
Courtlyn Ison -- 16 kills, 11 digs, 1.5 blocks
SODDY DAISY STATS:
Kirstie Williams -- 17 assists
Rachel Rader -- 5 digs
Lauren Smith -- 15 digs
Karigan Fulghum -- 8 kills, 9 digs
Alex Volker -- 5 kills, 4 digs
Abby Walker -- 4 aces, 5 kills, 6 digs
Kyleigh Ward -- 2 assists.
(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)