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Four District 1 teams in state title hunt

Tanner Cook • Oct 21, 2019 at 12:30 PM

Northeast Tennessee and District 1 are going to be well represented at this week’s TSSAA volleyball championships.

Four teams from our region — Dobyns-Bennett and Daniel Boone in Class AAA, Sullivan South in Class AA and South Greene in Class A — won their sectional matches to reach Murfreesboro and earn a shot at a state championship.

DOBYNS-BENNETT

Dobyns-Bennett heads for the state tournament for a second straight year and the 11th time in program history.

The Lady Indians last won the title in 2009, defeating Ravenwood in straight sets, and made another title appearance the following year — this time falling to the Lady Raptors.

The Lady Indians meet Ravenwood, one of the Williamson County powers, in the opening round of Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. on Court 2 at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center.

The Lady Raptors (29-10) have a balance of youth and experience: six underclassmen and eight upperclassmen.

Senior outside hitter Madison Bidwell leads the team with 377 kills this season — an average of 3.1 per set — and is hitting .174. Middle blocker Kelsie Dawson has 118 blocks for an average of a little more than three per match. Carly Cooper has a team-best 689 assists and Madison Wilhoit has 436 this season.

The Lady Indians (22-8) counter with four players featuring more than 150 kills this season. Hannah Watson leads with 234, and Region 1-AAA tournament MVP Staley Humphries has 225. Both missed significant playing time this year because of injury. Sithney Wolfe has 200 kills and Meg Maynor 171.

Rylee Waye bolsters the D-B offense, having compiled 796 assists with just 15 errors this season.

On defense, the intimidating Watson leads the team with 62 blocks. Maynor is second with 38.

Should the Lady Indians win their opening match, they would face the winner between Houston and Cookeville — both of which D-B eliminated during last year’s tournament run that reached the losers’ bracket final.

DANIEL BOONE

Daniel Boone punched its ticket to the big dance for the first time since 1998 and the program’s first as a Class AAA school. The Lady Trailblazers took out Farragut on the road last Thursday.

The Lady Trailblazers have finished as state runner-up twice, in 1976 and 1997. The first — in a cutthroat one-classification tournament — they fell 2-0 to Kirkman of Chattanooga when teams played best-of-three matches. Following a 21-year wait, Boone returned to the state final but lost in three sets to Livingston Academy.

The Lady Trailblazers drew a stiff challenge for their opening match: six-time defending state champion Brentwood. The teams meet at 1:30 p.m. on Court 2 at the Murphy Center.

The 14-time state champion Lady Bruins have appeared in every Class AAA final since 2012 and boast an overall state tournament record of 100-18. They are one of the top 20 high school volleyball programs in the nation.

Brentwood’s Barbara Campbell has the most coaching victories in Tennessee high school history. She began 2019 with 1,674 over 30 seasons.

Junior Shaye Eggleston leads Brentwood (50-3) offensively with an eye-popping 768 kills this season and is hitting an unbelievable .350. Eggleston has made only 198 errors on 1,627 attempts.

She’s committed to Alabama, which is now under the direction of former East Tennessee State coach Lindsey Devine.

Rylie Kael has contributed 352 kills this season for Brentwood, which has won 21 consecutive state tournament matches and dropped a total of nine sets over the past five seasons.

The senior leadership of Jaycie Jenkins, Greyson Stevens, Mackenzie Sweigart and Laken Jones has kept Boone steady this season, but the Lady ’Blazers must play nearly flawless volleyball to pull off the upset against the Lady Bruins.

District tournament MVP McKenna Dietz is a weapon on both offense and defense and should assume a critical role for Boone. Her Brentwood counterpart — Piper Drazek, an Army commit — is the unquestioned senior leader for the Lady Bruins, Campbell said.

A win would send the Lady Trailblazers on to a matchup against the winner between Collierville and Cleveland.

SULLIVAN SOUTH

South, seeking the program’s sixth TSSAA championship, is making its 31st appearance at state. The Lady Rebels have reached Murfreesboro five consecutive seasons. Their most recent title came in 2015.

After sweeping through postseason play to this point, the Lady Rebels (26-14) open state play by taking on Crockett County at 1:30 p.m. on Court 1 inside the Murphy Center.

The Lady Cavaliers (34-12) are in the state field for the first time since 2013. They are 0-17 over their seven appearances in Murfreesboro and at one point did not manage to win a set for nearly 11 years.

The Lady Rebels are looking for their first opening-round win since 2016 when they swept Signal Mountain.

Senior Abbey Jayne, a King commit, is the catalyst for South, and junior Katie Watson has found a higher gear this postseason. Setters Makki Compton and Olivia Delung are a strong and steady presence.

The Lady Rebels’ push to state, however, couldn’t have come without the rise of the team’s newcomers. Izzy Musick, Suzie Chatman, Molly Williams and Bradley Warner have contributed significant playing time this year and been a tremendous help on defense, which was often shaky during the regular season.

If the Lady Rebels win Tuesday, they would face the winner between Nolensville and Livingston Academy.

Two-time defending champion Portland is in the top half of the bracket. The Lady Panthers have won six consecutive state tournament matches, including three times over former Class AA power Knox Catholic. Portland beat South in the opening round last season.

SOUTH GREENE

South Greene is making its 15th appearance in Murfreesboro and 11th straight.

The Lady Rebels have five runner-up finishes to their credit, all of them coming at the hands of private schools.

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