After suffering a couple of District 5-AAA defeats to county rivals in its last two matches, the Bradley Central volleyball team got back on the winning side Thursday evening to even its league record.
The Bearettes improved to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in 5-AAA play with a 3-0 shutout as McMinn County paid a visit to Jim Smiddy Arena.
“We had good communication and got some offense going in the first game and then sort of fizzled some after that,” commented Bradley head coach Christie McElhaney after the 25-7, 25-13, 25-21 victory.
The Bearettes will head to the Choo Choo Classic this weekend where they will face Father Ryan, Sale Creek and Hixson in pool play, in hopes of advancing to the championship action.
Bradley came out like a house on fire Thursday evening, scoring the first seven points of the match, including four aces in a half-dozen service points from the serves of Noa Williams.
“Noa has been serving well lately, so that’s why we set up our rotation to have her serving first in each game,” explained coach McElhaney. The junior southpaw responded with a total of seven aces and 17 service winners in the opening two sets.
After pushing their advantage to 10-3, the Bearettes got another shot from the arm of junior Lisa Duvall with six straight service winners, including an ace, as part of a 9-1 run to push the lead to 15 points.
As the only Bearette in the rotation to serve twice, Williams finished off the opener with four more winners as Duvall wrapped up the victory with a dink.
The visitors showed some life to open the second game as the lead changed hands or was tied seven times before McMinn County went up 10-8.
After getting the serve back, Williams once against stepped behind the line and fired off seven straight winners, including two more aces.
The Lady Cherokees were able to momentarily slow the Bearette onslaught, but then junior McKenna Stinnett served out the final six points of the set, with a pair of aces, plus two other serves that never made it back over the net. Senior Rebecca Reuter had a pair of kills and her second block of the set in the final streak.
After the teams swapped the first four points of the third set, the girls from Athens went on a 5-0 run for their biggest lead of the evening. Trailing 9-5, Bradley was able to rally with five straight points of its own to take its first lead of the finale behind four service winners from libero Breelee Arms. Sophomore Julia Gaither had a block and a kill in the run.
The Lady Cherokees weren’t ready to fold their tepees, and fought back to create four straight ties. A 4-0 run by the Bearettes was answered with 5-1 streak by the visitors to put McMinn up 18-17, but that would turn out to be its last lead.
Junior Rachael Garrett keyed a 4-0 Bearette run with a net ace, before the Tribe closed the gap back to a single point twice. Freshman Hallie Hughes wrapped up the victory with the 16th “fire in the hole” ace of the evening before Gaither did the honors with a downed block for the final point.
Duvall had a total of four aces in her nine service points, while Reuter slammed down five kills and blocked a pair of shots. Sophomore Natalie Jennings and Garrett both finished with four kills.
Bradley also swept the junior varsity match by a 25-7, 25-18 tally.
— Complete stats for the match were not available at press time.