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Lady Cougars race to Senior Night win

Johnny Wilson • Sep 28, 2018 at 1:18 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Chilly nights will be coming soon, so the Sullivan Central volleyball team decided to get a jump on the competition and warm up for next week’s District 1-AA tournament with an easy league win Thursday night.

The Lady Cougars turned in one of their best efforts of the year and rolled to a 25-19, 25-15, 25-14 victory over Unicoi County on Senior Night at the Dickie Warren Dome.

“You never know what can happen on Senior Night with the emotions that are there,” said third-year Sullivan Central coach Logan Kemp. “I think it showed early on, but we were able to shake off those emotions and get it together and play well.

“I’d say this was probably the most complete game we’ve played in a while, and the timing is good as we head into tournament time.’’

SENIORITY MATTERS

Central (17-15, 8-4) was indeed impressive after falling behind early, rarely trailing past the midpoint of the first set and flat dominating at times.

As usual, seniors Alyssa Giles — with three aces, six kills and 17 digs — and Maci Cloninger — with 20 digs — kept the motor running smoothly.

“Those two have been a huge part of our program for four years, both with their performance and in their leadership roles,” Kemp said. “Not only outside the court, but their games speak for themselves when on the court.

“We’re sure going to miss them next year.”

Laiken Hoback added 19 assists and 6-foot sophomore Elaina Vaughan finished with four aces, four kills and five blocks.

STACKED DECK

The Lady Blue Devils (4-8 Three Rivers) simply weren't up to the task.

"We went four games with them at our place and I was expecting more of the same tonight," said third-year Unicoi County coach LeeAnn Lane. "But we've got a couple players who are just sick, so it's hard to rearrange the lineup with a limited number of players.

"It was also their Senior Night and that always makes it tough, too."

Ashton Vance had 23 digs and Blake Hall tallied 10 assists for Unicoi County. Shelby Miller produced seven kills.

TOURNAMENT TIME

The District 1-AA tournament, to be played at Sullivan East, begins with three games Monday night, with top-seeded Sullivan South earning a first-round bye.

South has already secured a Region 1-AA berth by virtue of claiming the Three Rivers regular-season championship. The district survivor will join the Lady Rebels in regional play.

Central is seeded third and opens district play against the No. 6 seed.

“If everything falls right that should be Johnson County,” Kemp said.

Unicoi County will be the fifth seed and meet No. 4 East in the first round.

"We've stayed pretty competitive with East this season so we've just got to be ready for another battle with them," Lane said.

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