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Volunteer shocks Tennessee High in Big 6 Conference volleyball

JIMMY MOORE, TriCitiesSports.com • Sep 14, 2017 at 10:52 PM

CHURCH HILL - Tennessee High’s unbeaten Big 6 Conference streak came to a sudden halt in the Falcons’ Nest Thursday as the Lady Falcons turned back the Lady Vikings in three sets, 25-18, 25-23, 28-26.

Volunteer coach Josh Wenger said it was the first match without sophomore Jersey Wines and Gracie Smith had stepped in to fill the slot and the victory was dedicated to Wines.

“It was a stunner but we came in expecting to win,” said Wenger. “I’m just so proud of the girls. They fought and forged a lead and then we let them get back in the games.

“But the perseverance to fight and finish are words we have been using a lot lately, just to work through the highs and lows.”

In the first set, Abby Hensley’s kill got the side out for her team and Alyssa Hatley reeled off eight consecutive service points that included three of her six aces before Hensley’s lob was the game winner.

Hatley also had another successful stretch at the service line in game two when she again reeled off eight consecutive points that included a trio of aces to put the Lady Falcons (14-6, 4-3) on top 23-16 but the visitors had an answer.

Tennessee High’s Laken Robinette reeled off eight consecutive service points to knot the score at 23-23.

But an unforced Lady Vikings (18-4, 6-1) error followed by Gracie Smith’s kill put the Lady Falcons up 2-0. Smith was on the court in place of Jersey Wines who is out for the season with a foot injury.

“I think our block/kills really made the difference in the match tonight,” added Wenger. “We really did a great job getting our hands on the ball and when you do that you can really change the game in your favor, especially if you put it back on the floor with your block/kills.”

Volunteer was leading 13-8 in the third set when the Lady Vikings’ senior setter Erin Walker went down with a knee injury. But visitors caught fire trailing 20-13 to knot the score six times before East Tennessee State University commit Hatley sealed the victory for Volunteer with her 12th kill of the night.

Hatley added 11 digs and two block/kills while Hensley registered nine kills including a trio of block/kills. Emma Bice and Kinzie Llic added four block/kills each. Setters Sydney Allen and Sydney Dobbs had 11 assists each. Aubrey Cobb registered 13 digs.

Hatley said after the four-set loss at Dobyns-Bennett Tuesday night the team got down on themselves but they had a good talk and came out tonight primed to win.

“We just hustled and hustled and hustled and played our heart out and did not let a ball hit the floor,” said Hatley. “I think we really had our minds set on winning and when you get the momentum on your side you don’t want to give it up.”

Tennessee High coach Mary Johnson said to give Volunteer credit because they came out and played really awesome but really felt the loss of their senior caption and setter who had 22 assists before going down in the third set and it really hurt them down the stretch.

“I feel like you can learn from winning but you can learn more from losing,” said Johnson. “We’re humbled tonight and it’s going to be a growth for us. Like I told the girls, ‘we’ll come back from this.’

“That third set we had Adison Minor setting and she had not set a game in her life. We had our back-up setter already in the game for somebody else. Our kids fought like crazy and I’m proud of them but that’s our captain that went down.The kids are going to have a hard time when your setter and captain goes down.”

Adison Minor collected 10 kills in the match for the Lady Vikings while Lexi Worley had 11 digs. Carley Williams added seven kills and a trio of blocks and Evie Cozart had nine digs.

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