MURFREESBORO — During a timeout early in Wednesday evening’s clash with Collierville, Dobyns-Bennett volleyball coach Kathi Shaffer issued a challenge to her team.
“Be aggressive! Make things happen!”
The Lady Indians heeded that advice, and went on to sweep Collierville in the opening round of the TSSAA Class AAA tournament.
D-B emerged from a contentious first game and won fairly easily in the final two sets, tallying a 25-22, 25-13, 25-17 victory.
“When we run our offense, we’re pretty tough to beat. I feel like when we take control of a game, and we play our game, we’re tough to beat. I felt like that’s what happened,” Shaffer said.
“Like I always say, if you play their game they have a shot. Because they’re better at it.”
Collierville’s game consisted of sound fundamentals and solid defense. The Lady Dragons were digging up a barrage of strong hits by the likes of Megan Devine and Meredith Hardy, while also putting down some precise kills and getting some timely blocks to keep the Lady Indians on their heels early.
“I thought that they played very well. We’ve played them, this is the third time and that’s the best they’ve played us,” Shaffer said.
“They’re really well coached and they picked their game up and they were tough.”
Other times, Hardy was unblockable. A booming kill by the Lady Indians’ 6-foot-2 junior middle hitter erased Collierville’s final lead and tied the score at 15-all. The Lady Dragons tied it once more, but never regained the advantage.
Collierville held early leads in each of the two subsequent games, but D-B never appeared rattled again and rallied past the Dragons in both instances.
“They had us on our toes pretty much the whole entire game,” senior outside hitter Caryn Foehringer said.
“They had some good hits. They got a bunch of our stuff up but we fought back.”
Foehringer’s 11 kills didn’t rank as the team high in that category, but many of her hits came at key opportunities. On at least three occasions, a big hit by Foehringer snuffed a promising run by Collierville (37-15), which had to play in an elimination game later Wednesday night.
“We wanted to win this first match so we didn’t have to drop down in the losers bracket and play another match right after this one,” Foehringer said. “We just want to play the least games that we possibly can while we’re here.”
Devine led the Indians in kills with 16. She also had 20 digs. Hardy had 14 kills. Libero Lori Peterson compiled 49 digs. Setter Jamie Rutledge racked up 46 assists and 10 digs, while Katie Jones had 19 digs.
D-B (49-3) advances to the winners bracket semifinals to face Ravenwood today.
“Honestly I don’t care who we play,” Foehringer said. “As long as we play our best, we’ll come through.”
All Class AAA matches today will take place at Blackman High School. By the end of today’s play, only three teams will be left standing in the draw. D-B can lock up a spot by winning its match this morning. If the Lady Indians lose that match, they’d have to win back-to-back in subsequent losers bracket competition tilts.
D-B students can attend the Lady Indians’ matches either today or Friday. Students must have a parents’ note excusing them from school, and sign in with a D-B faculty member on site at the games.