KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett and Sullivan South knew one team would leave the Buck Van Huss Dome with outright possession of first place in the Big 8 Conference volleyball standings.
The Lady Indians won the match in a 25-12, 16-25, 25-16, 25-12 decision. However, both teams left the gym having gained in the progress toward a much loftier goal.
Both teams combined on a “Pink Out” Thursday, in a drive to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research. During the main attraction, junior-varsity players for both sides worked the crowd seeking donations. T-shirts were also sold, with the proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen For The Cure Advocacy Alliance.
This summer, South coach Wendy Ratliff and D-B coach Kathi Shaffer came up with the idea to hold a charity event in conjunction with their regular-season meeting. Both teams have substantial fan followings, and their annual contests are among the most greatly attended volleyball matches in the area.
The sizable crowd that turned out for Thursday’s match watched the Lady Indians show their state-caliber form.
The Tribe won the first game in fairly one-sided fashion, then dropped the second game to South, which led nearly wire to wire and enjoyed its greatest success while D-B had a rotation on the court that lacked imposing middle hitter Meredith Hardy.
“I thought South did a good job taking advantage of Meredith being off the floor, but that rotation hasn’t hurt us,” noted Shaffer, who also sang the national anthem prior to the varsity match.
The Tribe bounced back to start Game 3, jumping out to a commanding 14-4 lead. South rallied to within 16-14 before D-B closed it out.
In the fourth game, the Tribe had its way with a flat Lady Rebels squad.
“If you fight and fight and fight and still don’t get a lead, it’s hard for high school girls to maintain,” Ratliff observed.
“You can’t win a match if you’re going to play defense all the time.”
Kim Johnson led the Lady Rebels (16-4, 4-1), finishing with 13 kills and seven blocks. Krista Reed and Kelsey Smith had six kills apiece. Tyria Hutchins tallied 31 digs.
Megan Devine led the Lady Indians in kills (17) and tied Lori Peterson for the team lead in digs with 19. Caryn Foehringer amassed 13 digs, Hardy had 14 kills and four blocks and Jamie Rutledge distributed 37 assists.
The Tribe (16-0, 6-0), which has advanced to the TSSAA Class AAA semifinals in consecutive seasons, remains unbeaten thus far. However, this weekend D-B faces Brentwood — the team that eliminated the Tribe from each of the past two state tournaments.
South, meanwhile, is still singing those Buck Van Huss Dome blues.
“It’s a D-B block,” Ratliff said. “When we go away on the road? So much better. Because we’re relaxed. We get in this gym and they get that look on their faces.”
South will face Dobyns-Bennett at least once more, on Oct. 6 at home. Additional rematches in the district and regional tournaments also seem likely.