An unheard of action by a TSSAA official forced cancellation of Tuesday evening’s varsity volleyball battle between crosstown rivals Bradley Central and Cleveland High.
After officiating the freshman match, Carolyn Jackson, a longtime basketball coach at Brainerd High School, gathered her belongings, including the $92.50 check she had already received for all three scheduled matches, and walked out of Jim Smiddy Arena.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” echoed head coaches Christie McElhaney (Bradley) and Patricia Flowers (Cleveland). The same comment was made by longtime coach and Bradley athletic director Turner Jackson, as well as another local former coach, whose playing and coaching days date back to the 1950s.
While fellow TSSAA official Andy Mullins did stay to officiate the junior varsity match alone, by rule a varsity match cannot be played with only one official, forcing the key District 5-AAA match to be rescheduled.
The match will be made up Monday evening at 6:30. Fans were given a ticket as they exited the arena Tuesday evening, which will get them into the makeup match without being charged a second time.
Upon the official leaving, Turner Jackson was eventually able to get in touch with Marsha Goodwin, the assignor for the Chattanooga Volleyball Officials Association, to see if another official could be dispatched to do the varsity match, but was told no substitute was available as all other officials were already assigned to other matches.
According to witnesses, Carolyn Jackson had been in the up position (on the ladder platform at the top of the net) for the freshman match and after being questioned by a coach about a “no call” on the match’s final point, she exited the court, told the coaches they can call the matches themselves and left the building.
Although she reportedly apologized to coach McElhaney a few minutes later in the parking lot, she still left the school and didn’t return.
In returning a call to the Banner, Goodwin stated, “I have just finished (officiating) a match at UTC. I am still trying to gather information on what happened and I have to return a call to the TSSAA. I have no comment on what happened.”
Cleveland won the two matches that were played, including an exciting three-set junior varsity match that finished with a 15-10 tie-breaker.
After the teams split the opening two points of the third set, the JV Lady Raiders jumped ahead with back-to-back kills by freshman Amber Morman as part of a 4-0 run.
Bradley answered with four straight points of its own, including three consecutive aces by freshman Emma Kate Brown.
Cleveland returned the favor with another 4-0 run, including a kill and tip winner by Graicyn Walkup on a trio of service winners by sophomore Lauren Borst.
The teams then traded the next nine points before another kill by Morman gave the serve back to the visitors, who closed out the match with a net ace.