KINGSPORT — Before Saturday, there was some dispute over which high school volleyball team should be ranked No. 1 in the state of Tennessee.
Dobyns-Bennett wasted little time ending that debate, sweeping Ravenwood 28-26, 25-19, 25-19 in a battle of unbeatens inside the Buck Van Huss Dome.
“I’m glad to beat them in three,” D-B coach Kathi Shaffer said. “That feels good because that has to be in their mind when they play us again. We hope it will be.”
Led by Madelyn Hutson, one of the top prep hitters in the country, Ravenwood turned a 16-9 deficit into a 19-18 lead in the first game. The 6-foot-6 Hutson dominated the net as the Lady Raptors built a 24-20 advantage, putting them on the verge of grabbing a 1-0 lead and a jolt of momentum.
“I thought the first (game) we were a little confused because we thought we were supposed to be setting them,” Shaffer said. “And that big girl didn’t need any help.”
The Lady Indians responded, however, by fighting off six game points before Jamie Rutledge finally came up with the kill that clinched the game and turned the tide in the Tribe’s favor for good.
As the match progressed, the Lady Indians did a better job of keeping the ball away from Hutson. Meanwhile, Megan Devine slowly took over.
D-B’s 5-11 senior started punching holes in the Lady Raptor defense and D-B closed out Ravenwood in three games.
Devine said it was important to make a statement with postseason play looming on the horizon.
“We were extra pumped because we wanted to show what we could do,” Devine said. “They were No. 1 and we were No. 2 and we just wanted to play the best, see who was the best team and get ready for the state tournament.”
Devine finished with 27 digs, 18 kills and four blocks for the Indians (33-0). Meredith Hardy came up with seven kills and two blocks.
Shaffer pointed to defense as a major key to victory, but added that Rutledge’s ability to get the ball up in positions where her hitters could make plays probably made the biggest difference.
“I think our passing, that’s the whole key,” she said. “Jamie’s that good, that when she makes good passes, it makes it so much easier.”
Rutledge finished with 30 assists and 13 digs. Katie Halvorsen led D-B with 30 digs, Lori Peterson added 24 and Katie Jones chimed in with 18 digs and a pair of aces.
Hutson, who has verbally committed to Texas, led Ravenwood (32-2) with 15 kills while North Carolina State signee Meredith Richardson added nine.
The Lady Raptors fared little better against Ooltewah later in the day. The Owls dropped the first game before recovering to beat Ravenwood 24-26, 25-14, 20-25, 26-24, 15-12.
D-B came back and swept Ooltewah 25-11, 25-16, 25-17 to close out the tri-match with its undefeated record intact.
Rutledge had 30 assists and six digs against the Owls while Peterson added 21 digs and Hardy recorded 12 kills and two blocks.
Devine came up big again in the nightcap with 25 digs, 12 kills and three blocks for D-B, which will face Science Hill at home on Monday during senior night.