Monday was a significant day in the history of high school volleyball as a match was played at Chattanooga State for the first time ever.
It featured Red Bank and Sale Creek in a match before Chattanooga State’s match with Covenant College.
It was a memorable day for the Lionettes as they improved to 9-13 with a 2-0 victory over Sale Creek. Set scores were 25-20 and 25-23.
These two teams have played several times already this season with Sale Creek prevailing every time.
Monday was Red Bank’s time to shine. The Lionettes played with everything to gain and nothing to lose. They were the more aggressive team from the start, they dominated play at the net and they were rewarded for their outstanding effort.
“The key was that we came out ready to play today,” said Red Bank coach Howard Ricks following the match.
“Sale Creek is a really scrappy team and it’s never easy to put down points against them, but we had a good game plan that we executed. In the end, we did a great job as it was one of our best matches of the season so far.
“We started off on a positive note and I’m really proud of the way everyone stepped up, but there’s still more there,” Ricks added, noting that his team will play at Heritage on Tuesday in a three-way meet with the Generals and Southeast Whitfield.
While Monday’s win might have been a turning point for Red Bank, the same might be true for Sale Creek.
The Lady Panthers are really young this year after finishing as state runner-up last fall, but youthfulness is never an excuse for not putting forth your best effort.
That’s the message first-year coach Erin Hill Briner stressed in a lengthy post-match discussion with her team.
“We came out flat and really put forth a poor effort,” the former All-State performer for the Lady Panthers said with a smile on her face.
“We just weren’t ready to play. I’m not sure if it was the earlier time to play or being in a different gym or what, but we just didn’t have the “want to” to compete today. I thought we played better in the second set, but we still made too many mistakes.
“There are times when we just need to be more competitive. Today’s match could either be a turning point or it could lead to a disappointing season. I know these girls pretty well and I’m confident they will bounce back as they each acknowledged they didn’t put forth their best effort today. I’m hoping this will be a good wake-up call for us,” she added.
The Lionettes got three straight service points from Zoe Helms to start the match as Red Bank scored five of the first six points. Red Bank never trailed in that set, although Sale Creek did force a tie at 10-10 following a kill from Kayla Phillips.
Red Bank rallied to score five of the next seven points, leading to a Sale Creek timeout, but nothing changed much as the Lionettes continued to stretch the lead, finally winning the set on a kill from Bailee Phillips.
Sale Creek played much better in the second set and even had a 7-3 lead following a kill from Ava Higgins, a promising eighth grader.
Red Bank then got four straight service points from Sydney Hoppe and took the lead for the first time at 8-7 following a Sale Creek hitting error.
The set was tied six more times, the last time being at 22-22 before Red Bank prevailed by scoring three of the final four points, all on Sale Creek hitting errors.
Ashley Ware led the Red Bank hitters with seven kills while Shante Smith and Phillips both finished with six apiece. Hoppe had eight digs while Smith and Zoe Helms had seven and six digs, respectively. Helms also had 19 assists.
Kacie Billingsley, Kayla Phillips and Katie McNabb all had three kills to lead Sale Creek while Allison Smith had 17 digs. Billingsley also had seven assists while Gabi Lacheney was credited with eight digs.
Sale Creek returns to action on Thursday with a key district match at South Pittsburg.
SALE CREEK STATS:
Allison Smith – 17 digs, 1 ace
Sarah Gibson – 2 kills, 2 digs, 2 aces
Katie McNabb – 3 kills
Lillie Morgan – 2 kills, 1 dig
Ruthie Parks – 5 digs
Karli James – 2 digs
Kacie Billingsley – 7 assists, 3 kills, 2 digs, 1 ace
Shopia Dozier – 4 assists, 2 digs, 2 aces
Kayla Phillips – 3 kills, 2 digs
Gabi Lacheney – 8 digs
Ava Higgins – 2 kills, 1 dig, 1 block.
RED BANK STATS:
Brandi Ashburn – 4 kills, 2 blocks
Arreyanna Glass – 3 kills, 1 dig, 1 block
Zoe Helms – 2 kills, 19 assists, 6 digs
Sydney Hoppe – 5 assists, 8 digs
Bailee Phillips – 6 kills, 2 digs
Shante Smith – 1 ace, 6 kills, 1 block, 7 digs
Ashley Ware – 7 kills
Lexie Wright – 2 kills, 2 digs
Whitley Gann – 4 digs.
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)