The second TSSAA fall sport heads into its postseason this week as the District 5-AAA Volleyball Tournament gets underway Monday evening in Ooltewah.
With golf already into the final of its three state tournaments, the volleyball teams will begin their quest for a TSSAA crown with a pair of arch-rivals going head-to-head to begin the event at 4:30 in “The Barn.”
Fourth-seeded Cleveland High (15-19, 5-7 District 5-AAA) will battle No. 5 Bradley Central (21-20, 5-7) in the opener. The teams split their two regular season matches, but the Lady Raiders claimed the tie-breaker for the higher seed.
“We were going to be playing each other no matter how the tie-breaker went,” Bearette coach Christie McElhaney stated during the district coaches meeting Friday at the Ooltewah Cracker Barrel.
Cleveland claimed a 3-1 victory when the teams met at CHS in the first half of the season, but Bradley bounced back with a 3-2 win at Jim Smiddy Arena in the match that was delayed seven days after one of the officials walked out after the freshman match.
After serving a short suspension, that official, Carolyn Jackson, has been scheduled by Chattanooga Volleyball Official’s Association supervisor and assignor Marsha Goodwin to call in the district tournament, including being slated to call the championship finals.
Following the Bradley-Cleveland opening match, Walker Valley (18-17, 4-8), the No. 6 seed, will tangle with 2012 state Class AA tournament participant East Hamilton (24-16, 8-4) at 6 Monday evening.
After being shutout by the Lady Hurricanes in their first meeting, Coach Judy Pruett’s Lady Mustangs pushed the district newcomers to a fifth-set tie breaker earlier this week.
“This district is a blood bath,” declared East Hamilton head coach Kristy Lenoir. “You enter a war zone every night you go out. You better bring your ‘A’ game or you are going to go home.”
“The last few years we knew there were some night’s it wasn’t going to be very tough to win, but that’s not the case here (in District 5-AAA),” commented the coach who has directed her team to TSSAA state tournaments the last two years. “We got off to a really slow start, losing three out of our first four district matches, but we adjusted well and seven of the last eight. It was a reality check for us.”
Second-seeded Soddy-Daisy (39-16, 8-4) has been to some state tournaments of their own (2010 and 2011) and will open post-season play against McMinn County (8-20, 0-12), the No. 7 seed. The Lady Trojans won the tie-breaker with East Hamilton for the right to face the Lady Cherokees, who have not won a set in a district match for six years.
The district tournament will continue Tuesday evening with semifinal matches to determine Region 3-AAA Tournament berths. The action will begin at 6 p.m. as the Bradley-Cleveland victor will tangle with top-seeded Ooltewah. The Lady Owls, which advanced to the state tournament last year and in 2009, are 33-8 so far this season, including a perfect 12-0 in 5-AAA action.
The Walker Valley/East Hamilton and Soddy-Daisy/McMinn County winners will square off in the event’s other semifinal at 7:30 Tuesday evening.
The tournament championship and the right to host an opening round region match will be held Wednesday evening at 6.