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Tribe tuning up for volleyball showdown with Ravenwood

Bill Lane • Sep 29, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Forgive Dobyns-Bennett volleyball coach Kathi Shaffer if she’s looking ahead to an opponent and not thinking much about the next match.

The undefeated Lady Indians, ranked No. 2, will be playing for state supremacy against No. 1 Ravenwood, also unbeaten, in a home match on Saturday.

“We’re always traveling to play in big tournaments,’’ Shaffer said Tuesday night after her team beat Sullivan Central. “This is the first time we’ve had a top team coming here in the seven years I’ve been at D-B. We’ll play a tri-match — against Ravenwood at 10 a.m. and then No. 7-ranked Ooltewah.’’

D-B will complete its tune-up on Thursday for the spectacle with a Big 8 Conference match at David Crockett.

The Lady Indians (30-0, 11-0) defeated Central (22-12, 6-5) in straight games, 25-8, 25-23, 25-18. D-B can thank its lucky stars for the second-game win because the Lady Cougars held a 23-18 lead only to be victimized by a series of blunders.

“We had the momentum on our side and let them take it away,’’ Central coach Tracy Graybeal said. “We just didn’t have it tonight.’’

D-B was led by Jamie Rutledge, Megan Devine, Meredith Hardy, Katie Halvorsen and Katie Jones. Rutledge had 31 assists, nine digs and three aces. Devine charted 10 kills and 18 digs. Hardy got 16 kills. Halvorsen chipped in with 26 digs. Jones finished with 18 digs and five kills.

“Megan and Meredith are our go-to players — that’s no secret,’’ Shaffer said. “Megan makes it look so easy out there. When Meredith goes in, I just tell her to take us home. Jamie is so competitive that she’d beat you if it were at bowling or checkers.

“I truly enjoy watching this team play. I have the best seat in the house.’’

Shaffer said she sleeps well at night because Hardy is only a junior. She added that Devine is as good an all-around player as she’s coached in 26 years and Rutledge is in charge of leadership from opening serve to final point.

D-B has only two seniors and the railbirds are wondering just how strong the team could be next year.

The Indians are on the verge of winning the Big 8 title. That may be decided next Tuesday against once-beaten Sullivan South.

Shaffer said the win over the Cougars was no gimme. “Central picked up its game and played hard. (The Cougars) are as good as any team in our conference.’’

While Graybeal was disheartened by losing after beating Virginia power Gate City the previous night, she understood.

“First of all, D-B has a great team and it’s hard to come out fired up two nights in a row,’’ she said. “Some nights you step on the court and it just doesn’t happen. We don’t have a lot of size and we have to make up for it with heart and aggressiveness. We’ve been on a roller-coaster ride all year.’’

Central’s statistical leaders were Kara Mann with six kills, Jacqueline Kestner with nine kills, Briana Cox with eight kills, Lauren Blevins with 26 assists and Kenzie Darnell with 15 digs.

“If there’s ever truly been a team sport, it’s volleyball,’’ Graybeal said. “As a team we’ve got some things we need to fix.’’

Central will observe senior night Thursday against Daniel Boone.

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