“This was a nice senior night. We got to honor the girls and then had good match,” declared head coach Christie McElhaney as her Bearette completed their best regular season in five years.
Bradley will carry a 27-12 record into next week’s District 5-AAA Tournament at Jim Smiddy Arena, including a 9-3 league mark.
“We won’t know until the (coaches) meeting in the morning to find out where we’ll be seeded,” McElhaney explained. “We are tied with Ooltewah and Soddy-Daisy for first, so it will probably come down to points in the tie-breaker.”
The Bearettes split with both the Lady Owls and Lady Trojans during the regular season, plus did the same with Cleveland High, the probable No. 4 seed.
After allowing McMinn a late rally in the opening game before putting it away by a 25-19 margin, Bradley didn’t fool around in the final two games Thursday evening, winning by lopsided 25-8 and 25-14 tallies.
Trailing 4-2 early in the opener, the Bearettes blew the game open with a 16-3 run, which included a trio of aces from sophomore Chanler Grady and two more from junior Whitney Donaldson.
Leading 21-11 a few minutes later, Bradley withstood the visitors making an 8-2 spurt to close the gap to four points before a kill by junior Brooke Copeland and the final service winner by Grady ended Game 1.
Senior Brianna Howard served up a pair of aces to start the Bearettes off on the right foot in the second game and classmate Kayla Arp dropped in four more aces in a six-point rally to push the advantage to double digits in a hurry.
Sophomore Lisa Duvall fired back-to-back aces in a five-point rally a moment later, while Copeland strung together four straight kills as part of a 17-point victory.
In the final game of the evening the teams swapped the first 17 points before Howard keyed a 5-0 rally to break open a one-point difference. The Lady Cherokees stayed within striking distance until the hosts closed out the match by scoring seven of the final eight points for the 11-point margin of victory.
“We were able to try some different combinations tonight and actually ran three different rotations. The big thing for us tonight was we got our setter (Arp) back and was able to give her some work before the district tournament,” McElhaney expressed. Arp had missed the last seven matches due to a foot injury suffered in a car accident last Friday.
Arp finished the night with 10 assists, nine service points, five aces off her jump serves, three digs and a kill. Howard helped out with a dozen service points, including four aces, plus she had seven digs and a pair of kills in her final regular season match.
Copeland collected 16 digs, 13 kills and a block, while her 6-foot-2 “Twin Tower” running mate Rebecca Reuter helped out with a half dozen kills, four digs and a trio of blocks.
Grady garnered seven assists, a half dozen service points, with three aces, while Duvall added a trio of aces of her own in seven service points, plus had four digs and a pair of kills.
Sophomore McKenna Stinnett added five assists, five service points, four digs and an ace to the victory, while Donaldson had seven digs and seven service winners, including her pair of aces.
Bradley also swept the freshman match, winning 25-9, 25-11.
Gabby Ghasedi paced the victory by handing out seven assists, dug out eight shots, plus downed three aces in eight service points.
Monica Johnson helped out with seven kills, six service points, including a pair of aces, and a block. Julia Gaither posted a half dozen digs, five kills and an ace for the victors, while Klassy Hawkins had an ace among her seven service points, plus had three digs and a couple of kills.
Tiffany Campbell dished off five assists, had four digs and an ace, while Myriah Brown finished with a pair of kills and an ace. Alison Burger added five digs.