Cleveland, Walker Valley set for district showdown

By RICHARD ROBERTS Sports Editor
Posted 10/3/17

The showdown is set and the gunslingers are ready to draw down, with the No. 1 seeded Lady Raiders taking on No. 2-seed Walker Valley to see who will blink first tonight in the District 5-A …

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Cleveland, Walker Valley set for district showdown

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The showdown is set and the gunslingers are ready to draw down, with the No. 1 seeded Lady Raiders taking on No. 2-seed Walker Valley to see who will blink first tonight in the District 5-A volleyball championship.

Cleveland bested the Lady Mustangs twice in five-set battles and Walker Valley will be gunning for the Lady Raiders when the teams face off at 7 p.m. in Jim Smiddy Arena at Bradley Central.

The Lady Mustangs surprised even themselves a bit with a 3-0 shutout of powerful Ooltewah in the second game of the three game semifinals. The Lady Raiders ran away from McMinn County in the closer.

Host Bradley Central was eliminated by McMinn County in the first game of the night. The win by the Lady Cherokees was only the second district win in the last 12 years. Ironically, the Tribe’s first district win came at the expense of the Bearettes during regular season volleyball in 2016.

Set scores were 25-19, 15-25, 25-17, 25-22.

LADY MUSTANGS 3,

LADY OWLS 0

For the first time in Judy Pruett’s memory, the Lady Mustangs took on Ooltewah and walked away with a win after only three games.

Walker Valley manhandled the Lady Owls for the most part Monday night, cutting it close at times but staying in firm control of the situation. The victory pits the Lady Mustangs against regular season champ Cleveland in the district volleyball final.

Set scores were 25-17, 25-23 and 25-11.

“We’ve got one more to go, said an elated Pruett after the sweep. “I don’t think we have ever swept Ooltewah as far as I can remember. I wasn’t expecting a 3-0 score, but I am thrilled with it.”

Walker Valley started with two aces from Carissa Frost and two kills by Aly Grace Lemons to take a 7-0 lead and never looked back. Walker Valley forced numerous Ooltewah errors and pushed the lead to 22-13 before closing out the first set. Lemons ended the sweep with 17 kills. Frost powered up seven aces for the Lady Mustangs.

Frost served up another ace early in the second set, with the Lady Mustangs jumping this time to a 6-0 lead. The Lady Owls found their footing this time, and were able to stay close, cutting the Walker Valley lead to 12-10 midway through the set. The Lady Mustangs again took advantage of Ooltewah mistakes and opened a 20-15 lead before the Owls battled back to tie it up at 23-23. Two more errors by Ooltewah put the win in the hands of the Lady Mustangs.

Set 3 was all Walker Valley. The Lady Mustangs took a 4-0 lead again with a Frost ace and Lemons kill and pushed the lead to 12-6 on the strength of Carly Buckner and Frost slams to the floor. Lemons made it 17-7 and another Frost ace opened the gap to 20-9. Buckner gave the Lady Mustangs a 24-11 lead with a kill and a final Ooltewah error sealed the sweep for the Lady Mustangs.

“It is possibly one of the best games where we have played consistently. The second game we might have let up a little bit, but we finished the game. We kind of started getting down but we finished 25-23. We could have just given up the game, but we didn’t,” said Pruett.

“We played Ooltewah three times this year. We won two district games, 3-1, and played them in a tournament and won 2-1. Tonight was our first 3-0 game. I’m so proud of the four seniors. They played great and all the girls played a really good match. But, we’re not done. We’ve got tomorrow (Tuesday) night. We’ve gone to five games both times with Cleveland, so you never know what’s going to happen.”

LADY RAIDERS 3,

LADY TRIBE 0

The team chemistry Lady Raiders coach Trish Flowers has been looking for all season finally showed itself last weekend in tournament action in Middle Tennessee. The sudden turnabout of sorts continued Monday night with a 3-0 sweep that eliminated McMinn County from the district tournament.

“Something happened this weekend with the team chemistry that was really good. I think that if it’s going to stay, we’ll see it tomorrow,” said Flowers, whose Lady Raiders scored set wins of 25-16, 25-15 and 25-8.

The chemistry wasn’t there early for the Lady Raiders, who quickly fell behind 6-0 to the Tribe before Flowers called a team-only timeout so the players could try to work on some communication issues by themselves. Cleveland came out of the quick break and piled up nine points to grab the lead.

Nicole Glaser served up a pair of aces to make it a 13-7 game. Cleveland kept up the pressure with Emma Flowers, Glaser and Sophia Lakatosh slamming kills to the hardwood to make it 20-13. Anna Renshaw came through with back-to-back kills with Cydney Brock adding another to make it a 23-16 game. Lakatosh stepped in with an ace to close out the first set.

Flowers finished up with 15 kills

“I hate to say they were taking McMinn for granted — I don’t think they were. I just don’t think they were ready. They had to get mentally focused. They got out of their funk really quick and stayed out of it the rest of the game,” said Flowers.

Cleveland fell behind early again in Set 2 but streaked back from the 6-0 deficit to take a 12-6 lead. A Renshaw block and kill along with Hannah Longley’s ace put Cleveland out front 17-8. Longley’s second ace of the run along with kills from Flowers and Brock opened the chasm to 21-9. Flowers put the Lady Raiders in the championship match with a final kill minutes later.

Cleveland and Walker Valley will meet up inside “The Jim” tonight at 6 p.m. To decide the best in District 5-3A.

“I’m pretty happy I got to play a lot of the girls off the bench, and get them a little bit of experience. We got to mix the ball around. Everybody contributed to the win and as long as that’s how it goes then it’s a good day,” said the Cleveland coach.

“They are going to come gunning for us. The lineup we are running is not the same as we’ve run against them in the past, so we will see what happens.”

All-District team: Hannah Grace Longley, Cleveland; Aly Grace Lemons, Walker Valley; Mabry Carpenter, Ooltewah; Missy Abbott, Bradley Central; Kaitlynn Hennessee, McMinn County; Anna Renshaw, Cleveland; Hannah Grace Moore, Walker Valley; Cheyanne Sales, Ooltewah; Emily Peterson, Bradley Central; Sophia Lakatosh, Cleveland; Carly Buckner, Walker Valley; Macy Milliken, Ooltewah; Joy Douglass, Cleveland; Sophie Frederick, Walker Valley; Lydia Martin, Cleveland.

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