It’s probably safe to say that the East Hamilton Lady Hurricane volleyball team is on a mission this fall.
They have finished as the state runner-up for the past two years and are hoping that the third time will be the charm, despite moving up to the Class AAA division.
The Lady Canes have been working hard since early July and they’re within a month of the season being over, but they are clicking on all cylinders, they’re having fun in the process and they’re still winning.
They improved to 24-8 overall and 5-0 in District 6-AAA on Thursday evening as they swept the Ooltewah Lady Owls.
Set scores got a bit closer as the match progressed, but there was never much doubt that the home team would prevail and they did so in impressive fashion by scores of 25-11, 25-14 and 25-21.
East Hamilton coach Antonela Tomic Suzuki has always stressed how important it is to work hard, but to have fun in the process. That was obvious on Thursday as the Lady Canes played well for the most part and they also had more than their share of fun as you can tell they enjoy playing together as they’ve become really close friends in addition to being teammates.
“We got a chance for everyone to play, but the main thing we were looking for is consistency,” the coach said afterward.
“We were able to try some new stuff, but the kids keep having fun and that’s one of the rewards I get as a coach. I was able to just sit back and enjoy the match as we were able to reap the rewards of our hard work.
“I really liked our serving as we wanted to be aggressive in that area, but I thought we did a good job of keeping them out of system. For the most part, I feel like we played pretty well,” she added.
Ooltewah coach Elaine Peigen is one of the most competitive coaches in the business. She’s as happy as anyone when her team is playing well, but she’s anything but when they aren’t.
She was feeling somewhat better by the end of the match, but she was fit to be tied after the first set.
“We just need to learn how to fight for the entire match instead of hanging our head when something doesn’t go our way,” she began after the match ended.
“I felt like our passing got better as the match went along, but we just need to be aggressive from the start of the match. That’s the only way we will be successful,” she added.
The first set was never close as back-to-back kills from Georgia Dobson got East Hamilton off on the right foot. A kill from Saylor Clark made it 4-1 before eight straight service points from Dobson extended the lead to 12-1.
Five straight points from Hana Suzuki a minute or so later made it 21-4 in a run that included three aces.
Back-to-back aces from Tristin Sutton awarded the first set to East Hamilton.
The Lady Owls were a bit more competitive in the second set as two straight kills from Karlee Bruner got the Owls within two at 8-6.
Ooltewah was never able to get much closer as the Lady Canes scored eight of the next 11 points for a 16-9 lead before Peigen called her first timeout.
A kill by Savannah Hughes made it 20-14, setting the stage for five straight service points from Suzuki, including the set point on a kill by Clark.
The third set was much closer, but the only lead for the Lady Owls was early at 1-0. Four straight hitting errors by the Lady Canes got Ooltewah within a pair at 23-21, but that didn’t last long as the Lady Owls gave up a point on a service error before an ace from Sutton ended it.
Karlee Bruner had 10 kills and two aces to lead Ooltewah while Makiya Taylor, Allie Tipton and Lily Williams all had two kills apiece.
The Lady Owls were missing an assistant coach, so there were no further stats than that.
Sutton, the only senior on a team with nine juniors, had a solid match with four aces, five kills, 22 assists and seven digs. Clark added eight kills and 16 digs while Dobson finished with four aces, 11 kills and six digs. Suzuki was also a major contributor with five aces, nine assists and six digs.
Ooltewah returns to action on Friday when they host Signal Mountain while East Hamilton will host Bradley on Tuesday.
Karlee Bruner – 10 kills, 2 aces
Makiya Taylor – 2 kills
Miyah Taylor – 1 kill, 1 ace
Allie Tipton – 2 kills
Lily Williams – 2 kills.
EAST HAMILTON STATS:
Tristin Sutton – 4 aces, 5 kills, 22 assists, 7 digs
Saylor Clark – 1 ace, 8 kills, 16 digs
Georgia Dobson – 4 aces, 11 kills, 6 digs
Julia Culpepper – 3 kills, 3 digs
Savannah Hughes – 4 kills
Camryn Daniels – 2 aces, 5 kills, 5 digs
Hana Suzuki – 5 aces, 9 assists, 6 digs
Morgan Prichard – 7 digs
Maddie O’Brien – 1 ace, 1 dig
Emma Mountain – 3 digs.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)