Sig­nal Moun­tain headed to state

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - WEEKEND BLITZ - BY KELLEY SMIDDIE STAFF WRITER Con­tact Kelley Smiddie at ksmid­die@times­freep­ress.com or 423-757-6653. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @Kel­leySmid­die.

Coaches talk about want­ing to see con­sis­tent per­for­mances from their teams, so Sig­nal Moun­tain volleyball’s Bailee Bar­rett can’t com­plain about not see­ing it in Thurs­day’s Class AA state sec­tional at Sig­nal Moun­tain.

The Lady Ea­gles me­thod­i­cally dis­posed of Hix­son 3-0 to ad­vance to next week’s state tour­na­ment, win­ning the sets by scores of 25-13, 25-15 and 25-14.

This marks Sig­nal Moun­tain’s fifth con­sec­u­tive trip to the state tour­na­ment, which will be held in Murfrees­boro next Tues­day, Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day. The

Lady Ea­gles, who fin­ished sec­ond last year and when the cur­rent se­niors were fresh­men, are seek­ing their fourth berth in a cham­pi­onship match and their sec­ond ti­tle.

Hix­son had 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the sec­ond set and a 1-0 lead in the third. Other than that, the Lady Wild­cats were play­ing chase the rest of the time.

Sig­nal Moun­tain’s first dou­ble-digit lead was 20-10 in the first set, the same in the sec­ond set, and 23-13 in the third.

“I’d have to look back to see, but I know we’ve had that a cou­ple of times where we lit­er­ally beat a team by the same scores,” Bar­rett said. “Al­ways we want to be con­sis­tent. It’s not about what the other team is do­ing. When we’re in the sys­tem, that’s when it hap­pens. Our pass­ing was great tonight. We may have been off in one or two spots in each set. That made a dif­fer­ence. When we pass the ball well to the set­ter and have three peo­ple to go to to get a kill from, that’s huge.”

Maia Rackel showed off her im­pres­sive ver­ti­cal leap sev­eral times through­out the match and topped Sig­nal Moun­tain with 17 kills. She got sup­port from Olivia Pow­ers with eight kills and Cora Hansen with seven, plus set­ter Kate Barry dropped six in on the Lady Wild­cats, pri­mar­ily off fake sets.

“She’s just very aware of where the other team is,” Bar­rett said of Barry, who also had 38 as­sists and 10 digs. “She just has good in­stincts. She knows when peo­ple are where they’re not sup­posed to be, or when they’re back on their heels. That’s when she’ll throw a ball over. She prob­a­bly has our high­est hit­ting per­cent­age.”

“It was pretty lack­lus­ter,” said Hix­son coach Janet Tate, who an­nounced at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son she would be re­sign­ing her po­si­tion at the end of it. “I thought they were ready. They talked like they were ready. But ac­tions speak louder than words.” Rackel’s first kill landed for the sixth point in the first set, and she had more than a few em­phatic ones through­out the match.

“I get it,” Tate said. “That can be over­whelm­ing to a kid. That’s all right. I’m proud my girls made it this far. Four years in a row (in a sec­tional) ain’t bad.”

Other lead­ers for the Lady Ea­gles were Hansen with six blocks and Rackel and Macken­zie Lewis with 11 digs apiece.

Dakota Raw­iszer was the kills leader for Hix­son (18-19) with five, and she also led with six as­sists. Abby Rec­tor led with 13 digs.

› East Hamil­ton 3, Up­per­man 0: At East Hamil­ton, the Lady Hur­ri­canes also ad­vanced to the Class AA state tour­na­ment. Set scores were 25-19, 25-18, 25-21.

They were led by Madison Hayes with 18 kills and five aces. Hil­lary English was the leader in as­sists (30) and digs (10). McKenna Hayes led with three blocks.

› Cleve­land 3, Black­man 0: At Cleve­land, the Lady Raiders earned a re­turn trip to state af­ter mak­ing their first ap­pear­ance last year. Set scores were 25-17, 25-20, 25-20.

Emma Flow­ers paced the hit­ting with 23 kills and equaled Han­nah Lon­g­ley with 15 digs. Anna Ren­shaw had 31 as­sists, and Ni­cole Glaser con­trib­uted three aces.

› Sale Creek 3, Gor­donsville 0: At Sale Creek, the Lady Pan­thers took another step to be­com­ing a fix­ture at the Class A state tour­na­ment with another ap­pear­ance un­der Coach Deb­bie Hill. The set scores were 30-28, 25-20, 25-9.

Lead­ers for the Lady Pan­thers were Abbey Bur­ton with 19 kills, Gra­cie Janow with seven blocks, Mor­gan Weather­ford with 39 digs and Jayda Perry with 45 as­sists.

› Her­itage 3, Jef­fer­son 1: At Her­itage, the Gen­er­als won their open­ing-round match in the GHSA Class AAAA state tour­na­ment by set scores of 25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 25-17.

Macy Har­ris led in kills with 11 and matched Ash­ley Clin­ton’s three aces. Clin­ton had 31 as­sists and three blocks, and Kali Brown’s all-around per­for­mance in­cluded seven kills, two blocks and 18 digs.

› Brent­wood Academy 3, GPS 0: At Brent­wood Academy, the Bruis­ers’ sea­son came to an end in a Di­vi­sion II-AA state quar­ter­fi­nal. Set scores were 25-16, 25-12, 27-25.

Rea­gan Long’s nine kills paced GPS, and Preslee Brooks­bank was the digs leader with 19. Emma Moore to­taled 28 as­sists.

“Our pass­ing was great tonight. We may have been off in one or two spots in each set. That made a dif­fer­ence. When we pass the ball well to the set­ter and have three peo­ple to go to to get a kill from, that’s huge.” – BAILEE BAR­RETT

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