MURFREESBORO — Reaching a state tournament is hard enough without having to play a road game once you get there.
Playing in front of its raucous home student section, Siegel scored a five-game win (25-20, 20-25, 10-25, 25-19, 13-15) to put an end to the Lady Indians’ season at this year’s TSSAA Class AAA tournament.
Siegel is one of three Rutherford County schools playing host to the tournament on Wednesday and Thursday before it returns to Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center for today’s championship matches.
Unfortunately for Dobyns-Bennett, the Class AAA satellite portion was held at Siegel.
“I think it’s a factor whenever you come to somebody’s home court and there’s a huge student section. I think that’s unfair,” D-B coach Wendy Baker said. “I’m not making excuses because it went to five and it could have gone either way, but I do feel that’s a bit of an advantage for a team. I think there has to be some other system we could use, with all the facilities around here, instead of giving a team a home-court advantage.”
The Lady Indians (41-11) could have folded after a 15-point loss in the third game, but held Siegel (34-12) under 20 in the fourth game to even the match.
“They are girls with great character on and off the court. They love each other and said, ‘we’re here for a purpose and we’re not going to give up and we’re going to fight,’” Baker said of her team extending its season one more game.
The Lady Indians remained in the fifth game despite Siegel posting a 7-0 run in the middle. Trailing 13-10, three Taylor Henry kills kept D-B in the match, but it was two Tori Simmons kills that determined the final outcome for Siegel.
“It was very tough to overcome. We didn’t want to use that excuse,” Henry said of playing the home-standing Lady Stars. “I think after the 25-10 loss we looked at each other for the fourth game and said, ‘let’s go.’ We took that fourth game and we just really wanted the fifth, but we just couldn’t bring it home.”
D-B advanced to play Siegel after Thursday morning’s wire-to-wire sweep of Ooltewah (25-19, 25-20, 26-24), which never put together more than four consecutive points.
The Lady Indians opened both the second and third games with 7-1 leads, and needed every point.
Ooltewah (45-12), which trailed by a match-high nine points in the second game, trimmed the lead to 17-15 before D-B closed out with a 7-5 run, including a game-winning block from Henry and Sasha Morrisette.
The closest the Lady Owls came to threatening D-B was a 24-all tie in the third game — the latest Ooltewah was in striking distance of a victory. A kill by Henry and an Ooltewah error were the final two points D-B needed to advance to the Siegel match.
D-B opened with a 10-3 lead in the first game, saw it cut to 18-15 before closing on a 6-4 run thanks to three kills by Makenzee Frohlich, two by Whitley Starnes and Lexi Hartsock’s game-winning ace.
“You have to keep your momentum. If you don’t have the momentum on your side then it shifts,” said Morrisette, who posted three straight aces to open the third game. “When they started catching back up we started losing that momentum. We called a time out, talked to each other and said we need to get the momentum back on our side. That’s what we did, and we pulled it out.”
D-B called three time outs in the last two games — at 17-14, 17-16 and 24-24 — and went on to outscore Ooltewah 19-14 after the three minute-long breaks.
For the match, the Lady Indians were able to work around the height advantage the Lady Owls had at the net. Ooltewah registered just six blocks.
“Ooltewah, they are known for their blocking and they are a big team. We’re a lot smaller than them,” said Baker, whose team lost 2-0 to Ooltewah during a September tournament in Brentwood. “We needed to be smart, hit around the block and use everybody as hitters. I feel like they did that.”comments powered by Disqus