The host Lady Greene Devils used that momentum in the beginning of the match with Sullivan South to go up 10-5 early on in the first set.
The Lady Rebels never panicked — and the outcome was epitomized by the smiling face of libero Meredith St. Clair, an outstanding defensive performer all year who came up big in what turned out to be a sweep by South, 25-23, 25-23, 25-11.
“Greeneville came out strong and they’re a good team,” South coach Wendy Ratliff said. “They came at us hard and we were just playing too much defense. They made us nervous, but our seniors really stepped up. We have a lot of girls that play with a lot of maturity.”
Once the Lady Rebels seized the lead in the first set, at 22-21, it felt as though the air went out of the building and the Lady Greene Devils never recovered.
The second set was close, but South always had an answer whenever the Lady Devils gained any ground. Greeneville never grabbed the lead in the second set despite several ties because South either had an outburst or Greeneville committed a string of mistakes.
Fittingly, St. Clair ended the second set with an ace right down the heart of the Greeneville back line.
The third set was all Lady Rebels from the first serve. They went up 4-0 early and stretched the lead to as many as 14 points near the end.
Maddie Townsend, who recorded eight kills and five digs in the finals, was named the Most Valuable Player for the tournament.
Abbey Jayne capped her night with 16 kills and nine digs. St. Clair finished with 24 digs, one ace and one kill and Halle Dykes had 15 digs.
Jayne and Makkenzie Compton joined Lady Rebels teammate Townsend as all-tournament team selections.
EARLIER IN THE EVENING
Greeneville advanced in the tournament’s first match with a thrilling five-set win over Elizabethton.
The Lady Cyclones’ season ended with a 24-16 record, one victory shy of beating the school record for wins. Sydney Goodsell made the all-tournament team.
Morgan Smith had 23 kills, 10 assists and nine digs to lead Elizabethton.
The Lady Rebels reached the finals with a quick sweep of Northview Academy. Jayne had 11 kills, two assists and three digs for the Lady Rebels, who simply overwhelmed the Lady Cougars.
In Thursday’s sectional round, the Lady Rebels will host Anderson County, which lost to Knox Catholic in the Region 2-AA finals. Greeneville will travel to Catholic.
“We did not want to go to Knoxville. That was motivation enough,” Ratliff said.