“We were able to get some new girls in the lineup tonight and they played well, but we are going to have to be more consistent all the way around as we go into the district tournament,” she assessed.
Senior setter Kayla Arp missed the Pick-O-Dixie Tournament, which Bradley finished second in the silver division, after injuring her foot in a car accident last Friday. “She didn’t break a bone as was feared, but she’s got strained ligaments in it,” McElhaney explained. “We’re in a wait and see situation with her on when she can return.”
The Bearettes (26-12) are still on top of the District 5-AAA standings at 9-2, with their final regular season match scedule for Thursday when McMinn County, which is winless in district play, comes to Jim Smiddy Arena. The 5-AAA tournament will begin on the Bearettes home court on Monday. The tournament seedings will be set at Friday morning’s coaches meeting.
“We are going to have to get a few more serves in and keep a few more balls in play to get back to where we need to be,” McElhaney stated.
After jumping out to big early leads in all three games Tuesday evening, Bradley had to withstand Rhea County comebacks for the 25-20, 25-17, 25-15 victories.
Scoring the first four points of the match, the Bearettes allowed the visitors to score seven of the next 11 points as they closed the gap to a single point twice.
Bradley got things going with five straight service points from junior newcomer Whitney Donaldson, with the aid of classmate Brooke Copeland’s four kills during the run. Sophomore Chaler Grady helped out with three straight aces to push the advantage to double digits.
After the teams swapped the next half dozen points, the Lady Eagles once made a comeback with a 9-3 run to pull within four points before junior Rebecca Reuter finished off the opening game with her fourth kill of the evening.
In the second game, the lead changed hands six times in the first 23 points before the Bearettes exploded with eight straight winners behind the serving of senior Brianna Howard, including a pair of aces. The Lady Eagles answered with a 4-0 run before Bradley sealed the deal with a 5-1 streak as sophomore Noa Williams served up a trio of winners.
The hosts raced out to a quick 7-1 lead to start the final game of the evening, but once again Rhea came screeching back with a 5-1 run to pull within two points. After trading the next five, Bradley got a block and a kill from Reuter to put a little distance between the squads.
A few moments later Copeland added another kill to regain the serve and then stepped behind the backline for three straight winners. The visitors made one last short 3-1 rally before sophomore Lisa Duvall served out the match with a pair of aces in a 5-0 run, including a net ace on match point.
Copeland finished the night with 15 kills, eight blocks, a dozen receptions, nine digs and six service winniners. Her “Twin Tower” mate Reuter added 10 kills, four blocks and a pair of receptions.
Howard helped out with 13 service points and nine digs in the victory, while Grady dished off nine assists, had seven service points and a half dozen digs. Libero Rachael Garrett dug out eight shots and had four receptions, with Duvall posting 10 receptions, six digs, five service points, three kills and half a block.
Sophomore McKenna Stinnett handed out seven assists and had four service points, while Donaldson had seven service winners. Campbell had four assists.
Bradley also won the junior varsity (25-15, 25-10) and freshmen (26-24, 25-14) matches.