KINGSPORT — While Sullivan South found itself fighting back from the brink of elimination, Dobyns-Bennett dismantled Sullivan Central to lock up a spot in the championship game of the District 1-AAA volleyball tournament.
The second-seeded Lady Indians put on an absolute clinic as they rolled past No. 4 Central 25-14, 25-7, 25-10 on Wednesday, locking up a berth in next week’s Region 1-AAA tournament.
Meanwhile, the top-seeded Lady Rebels appeared to suffer a bit of a hangover from their loss to the Lady Cougars on Tuesday night. South dropped its first game against No. 3 Science Hill before bouncing back to win the match 14-25, 25-21, 25-13, 25-15.
Central and South will face off tonight at 5 o’clock inside the Buck Van Huss Dome, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. The winner advances to face D-B in the title game and is assured of a spot in next week’s regional. The loser will go home.
The Lady Indians put themselves in the catbird seat by outperforming Central in every facet of the game. Their passing was spot-on, they were quick on defense and their hitters finished with authority over and over.
“Now you’ve got to make a statement, you’ve got to play at that (high) caliber and I think we’re doing that,” D-B coach Kathi Shaffer said. “I think we just looked really focused from first serve to last serve, and that’s what you have to do this time of year.”
Megan Devine led the way for the Tribe (43-3) with 14 digs, 12 kills and an ace while Caryn Foehringer added eight kills, three digs and a pair of blocks. Lori Peterson recorded 27 digs to go along with four aces for D-B.
Although the Lady Indians are already qualified for the Region 1-AAA tournament, they have plenty of motivation to win tonight’s championship match. A victory would mean hosting the regional next week.
“I think we all like playing at home, and if we can, we’re going to keep it that way,” said Jamie Rutledge, who recorded 29 assists, eight digs, three blocks and three kills.
“We’re not taking anyone for granted,” she added. “From here on out, you’ve just got to win. Previous records don’t matter at all.”
Kara Mann had seven kills and seven digs for the Lady Cougars (28-11), while Kenzie Darnell added 25 digs and Lauren Blevins dished out 16 assists.
Central coach Tracy Graybeal said her team now finds itself at a crossroads after Wednesday’s subpar performance.
“Between tonight and tomorrow night, we have one of two choices,” she said. “We can either come together, regroup and continue our season or we can show up like we showed up tonight and go home.”
The Lady Rebels came out flat against the Lady Hilltoppers and dropped the first game of their elimination match. South coach Wendy Ratliff wasted little time getting her team back on track.
“I think I might have scared them,” Ratliff said. “I got a little aggravated at them and I don’t ever get mad.”
The dose of tough love worked wonders as South seized the momentum by winning Game 2 and never looking back.
Kim Johnson had 12 kills and 12 blocks for South (35-11), while Taylor Fink tallied 27 assists and Tyra Hutchins 10 digs.
Ivey Rice led Science Hill (28-8) with 12 kills and 11 digs, and Courtney Dennis added 10 kills.