Coming off strong weekend tournament performances, Walker Valley and Bradley Central gathered at “The Stable” Tuesday evening for the first of their two District 5-AAA regular season battles, with the hosts galloping away with a clean sweep.
“To be able to sweep the freshmen, JV (junior varsity) and varsity matches is a big win for us,” proclaimed Lady Mustang coach Judy Pruett. “We had seen Bradley in the preseason, but didn’t play them all summer, so I wasn’t sure how we’d do against them.”
“We got behind some (in the varsity match), but were able to rally back,” she said of the 25-18, 25-17, 25-23 victory to complete the trifecta. “The girls played together as a team. After the Cleveland match (where WV was up 2-0 before CHS rallied to win three straight games last week), we know better than to take anything for granted.”
With a Silver Division title under their belt from the Early Bird Tournament in Knoxville over the weekend, including defeating Soddy-Daisy in the championship match, Walker Valley is now 6-5 overall on the season and 1-1 in district play. The Lady Mustangs will travel to Soddy Thursday evening before facing some tough competition in the Choo-Choo Classic this weekend.
Having taken the runner-up trophy in their own Bradley Bash, the Bearettes slip to 6-3 on the young campaign, including a 1-2 mark in 5-AAA play. Bradley will travel to East Hamilton Thursday, then also participate in the Choo-Choo Friday and Saturday.
With five lead changes and seven ties in the first 27 points, Tuesday night started as expected when the cross-county rivals get together.
Down 15-13, the Lady Mustangs put on their first strong rally of the night, galloping to a 13-3 run down the stretch. Junior Alexan Crittenden served up five straight winners, including a trio of aces, in the streak to give the hosts the 25-18 opening set win.
Bradley came out strong in the second game to put four of the first five points on the scoreboard, but once again the “Fillies” cantered back to knot the tally three times before taking the lead for good.
Walker Valley was the one up 15-13 in the middle game when a four-point run, including a pair of aces by junior Mikayla Lumpkin, pushed the advantage to seven points.
The Bearettes had a mini-spurt of their own, once again scoring four of five points to trim the deficit to three, but after Madison Pruett got the serve back with a dink, the Lady Mustang junior stepped behind the service line and finished out the game with three straight winners, including an ace.
Not willing to quit, Bradley came back out for the third set with a renewed determination and scored the first three points.
Walker Valley fought back to even the tally at 4-all before the teams jockeyed back-and-forth for the majority of the set with a half dozen lead changes and 11 ties.
Down 18-16, Bradley retook the edge after a 4-0 run behind the serves of sophomore Emma Kate Brown and still led at 21-19 before the “Fillies” hit a full gallop once again with a pair of Ashlyn Flock aces sparking five straight points by the hosts.
Despite facing match point, the Bearettes regained the serve and then got a block by junior Natalie Jennings to pull within a point at 24-23; however Bradley’s 32nd unforced error of the evening set off the Lady Mustang celebration.
“We had way too many unforced errors,” bemoaned Bearette coach Christie McElhaney. “You can’t give away that many points and expect to win.”
Using a nine-player rotation, Walker Valley was led by Madison Pruett with 21 digs, 14 service points, nine kills and a pair of aces. Junior Sara Wilson added 18 service points, 17 digs, a trio of kills and an ace.
Flock collected 20 digs, handed out 15 assists, plus downed five slams and served up an ace.
Senior Katelin Scoggins finished with 18 digs, 13 service points and a pair of kills, while Crittenden had a dozen digs, nine assists, seven kills and a trio of aces.
Junior Madison Russo garnered four digs and a trio of blocks, while Lumpkin had eight digs, a pair of blocks and two aces.
Junior Julia Gaither led the way for Bradley with 11 digs and five kills, while Jennings downed five slams and was in on 3.5 blocks.
Senior Lisa Duvall blasted seven kills, dug out a half dozen shots and blocked a pair. Chanler Grady, also a 12th-grader, posted nine digs, five assists and a pair of aces.
Sophomore Halle Hughes handed out seven helps, dug out four shots and served an ace, while junior Monica Johnson finished with five kills, three digs and a block.
The junior varsity and freshmen matches were just as close as the prime-time feature, with the Lady Mustang JV nipping the visitors 25-20, 26-24, while the WV freshmen had to go to a tie-breaker set to pull out the victory.