KINGSPORT — There were some definite bumps in the road on South Greene’s journey to the Region 1-AA volleyball title.
But the Lady Rebels’ poise under pressure will allow them to take their next step toward a state championship from the comfort of home.
South Greene flirted with disaster before eliminating Sullivan East 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 25-13 in the semifinals of the regional tournament at Sullivan North. The Lady Rebels then turned around and dropped the first game to Sullivan North in the title match before rebounding for a 22-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-18 victory.
South Greene will host Christian Academy of Knoxville on Thursday evening, while North will travel to Stone Memorial.
“I’m very proud of these young ladies,” South Greene coach Amy Hawk said. “Getting to experience the substate game at home, I like our chances better than going on the road.”
After defeating West Greene 25-15, 25-11, 25-15 in the opening semifinal, the homestanding Lady Raiders were able to sit back and relax as South Greene tangled with the Lady Patriots.
Soon after their emotional victory over East, the Lady Rebels were back on the floor getting ready for North.
Fueled by a raucous crowd, the Lady Raiders grabbed an early lead and never trailed on their way to a Game 1 win.
Things went south in a hurry for North in Game 2, and poor passing was the culprit. Trailing 8-7, the Lady Raiders dropped six points in a row and never recovered.
“I had very good vibes going into the final match tonight,” North coach Vicki McGlothlin said. “We came out of the gate fired up, but our passing was in disarray starting in the second game.
“Volleyball is momentum and once you start that, it’s hard to correct that sometimes.”
The Lady Raiders were never able to get their offensive rhythm back and McGlothlin said a lot of that had to do with South Greene’s defense.
“They’ve got a really good, scrappy team,” she said. “My big girls were pounding it hard and they were just getting it back up. That gets in your head sometimes.”
Meanwhile, the Lady Rebels reeled off seven straight points to erase a five-point deficit midway through Game 3 and held on to build a commanding 2-1 advantage.
Hawk said she was proud of the way her team responded after falling behind in a tough environment.
“To come up here and lose to a team like North in the first game, we really had to dig in because they’re a great team,” she said.
Emily Dean had 17 kills and two blocks in the title match after hammering home 24 kills in the semifinals for North (19-12). Tiffany Gregg added 13 kills and two blocks while Olivia Breeding dished out 29 assists against South Greene (21-1).
McGlothlin said the best team won Tuesday, but now it’s up to her team to be the best team on Thursday night in the sectionals.
“I just know that at this point it’s do or die,” she said. “We’ve got to play a lot better to have a chance. I would hope that, it being substate, that we’ll give it all we’ve got.”