Waye had 50 assists in just three sets and was on serve during the Lady Indians’ big comeback in the second set of a 26-24, 26-24, 25-18 win over Farragut in Thursday night’s Class AAA sectional at the Buck Van Huss Dome.
It means that Dobyns-Bennett’s Megan Devine, who went to the state tournament with the Lady Indians (37-3) as a player, will be going now for the first time as their head coach.
“It is an amazing feeling,” Devine said while fighting back tears. “These girls have worked so hard since December and that has been our plan. Everything has been a game-by-game situation. We’re not looking ahead and talking about state, but we know that’s where we want to be. We take it one game at a time and that’s what we’ve done all season. I’m so proud.”
Waye was happy to lead the way, especially in the second set. She was on serve when the Lady Indians rallied from an 18-8 deficit to pull within one point. They eventually overcame the Lady Admirals with a kill by Staley Humphries closing out the set.
“I knew we had to get the ball on the court,” Waye said about the comeback. “We had to make sure we were serving aggressive, but also putting the ball in the correct place and not serving their libero. I would keep going deep, deep, deep and then follow with a short serve.”
She wasn’t the only one to put up big numbers in a short amount of time. Middle blocker Courtney Whitson had 17 kills, five digs and two assists, while Hannah Watson had 11 kills and three blocks.
Whitson, a hard-nose competitor who is committed to ETSU in basketball, had four kills in the second-set comeback. Devine called the middles unstoppable when D-B was running the slice and credited Whitson with a Division I mentality of never settling for mediocrity, instead pushing the team to be elite.
“We came out and said our bread and butter is the middle. That’s what we wanted to start out with,” Whitson said. “We had this motto of the first five points to our middles. This is a different feeling of making it to state. We’ve sacrificed individually for that togetherness.”
The Lady Indians showed that cohesiveness all over the court.
Outside hitter Caroline Cable, who had perhaps her worst matches of the season Tuesday night in the Region 1-AAA tournament at Morristown East, came back with 10 kills and two blocks. Humphries added eight kills and 13 kills. Other leaders included Chloe Harless with 22 digs and two aces and Meg Maynor with five kills and five digs.
“I just mentally prepared myself in school because I knew it wasn’t my night Tuesday, so I was like, ‘This is Thursday and I need to be on my game,’ ” Cable said. “I didn’t stay focused on the things I can’t control, but focused on me and my play. They pulled the block to the outside and that helped us. The cross five was open and I was hitting off their hands.”
Her efforts inspired her teammates, while other contributions included Carly Shell totaling 13 digs and Zoie Larkins coupling four digs with an ace.
The Class AAA state tournament begins Tuesday at Middle Tennessee State University.