MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Baylor found itself in two slugfests as volleyball matches go. The problem was the Lady Red Raiders got outslugged in both.
Baylor fell 3-1 to Harpeth Hall in the TSSAA Division II-AA winners-bracket final of the state tournament, then got beat 3-1 by St. Agnes in the losers-bracket final at Siegel High School.
The third-place Lady Raiders' 25-19 loss to Harpeth Hall in their first set of the day was the largest margin of victory in any set they played all day. The other scores in the first loss were 25-21, 23-25, 25-20. The set scores against St. Agnes were 27-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-20.
In Class AA at Middle Tennessee State, East Hamilton lost 3-1 to Goodpasture in the winners-bracket final and then lost 3-1 to Christian Academy of Knoxville and finished third. Red Bank was eliminated 3-1 by Christian Academy of Knoxville earlier in the day.
In Class AAA at MTSU, Ooltewah was ousted by Bearden 3-2, ending with two gut-wrenching sets that both went the Lady Bulldogs' way.
Rachel Travis led Baylor (35-14) in kills in both matches and ended up with 35. Megan Kaylor was the assists leader with 29 in each match, and her five aces were high against St. Agnes. Madeline Rose led with 18 digs and three aces against Harpeth Hall, and Travis's 23 digs were high in the finisher.
"We played eight games and were pretty much right there in every one of them," Baylor coach Sarah Lail said. "I couldn't ask anything more from my seniors, from my team. You want to leave it all on the court at the end of the season and give it all you've got, and that's what they did."
East Hamilton (35-20), which had its best finish in the program's four-year history, was 1-1 with Goodpasture and was up 22-19 before the Lady Cougars scored six consecutive points and went on to win 22-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-13. CAK beat the Lady Hurricanes 20-25, 25-14, 25-14, 25-23.
"When Goodpasture won out in that third set, I think that was hard on us," East Hamilton coach Kristy Lenoir said. "When you don't finish strong in one like that, normally it doesn't turn out well after that. I thought we fought hard to the end. These girls have a lot to be proud of."
Coach's daughter Emma Lenoir led the Lady 'Canes with 29 kills and 34 assists on the day. Emily Clemmons was the digs leader with 32, and Briley Considine led in blocks with eight. She also had five aces in the first match and Kylie Scruggs had four in the second match.
After Red Bank lost the first set 25-18, the Lionettes were whipped 25-8 in the second. But they showed some resiliency down match point in the third set before scoring the final three points to win it 26-24. CAK closed it out 25-19.
"We just couldn't pass off of our serve-receives," Red Bank coach Christel Brooks said of the second set. "When we would get one, we'd make a hitting error."
Brooks added she thought a few of the teams were evenly matched, so playing up to par was paramount.
"We weren't on it," she said.
Savannah Nelson and Shelby Hayes led the Lionettes with 15 kills apiece, and Ansley Helton, Brooks' daughter, had a team-high 20 digs. Those are the seniors for Red Bank (39-11), which never has had a losing year in 29 seasons of TSSAA sanctioned volleyball and recently won the 1,000th match in program history.
"I'm proud these girls got to be a part of that and were able to keep the tradition going," Brooks said. "They accomplished quite a bit. Not many sports anywhere can say they've never had a losing season and have 1,000 wins in their program."
Ooltewah's loss was 25-13, 23-25, 17-25, 26-24, 18-16.
"The girls fought hard and played hard," Ooltewah coach Elaine Peigen said. "We missed too many serves."
Kelsey Chernak led the Lady Owls with 41 assists and four aces, and fellow senior Leondra Barrett led the hitting with 24 kills. Izabela Zdunek totaled six kills, four blocks, 13 digs and five assists in her final match for Ooltewah (36-20), and classmate Karly Newman went out having seven kills and 11 digs.
"From the beginning of the season to now, the girls showed a lot of heart," Peigen said. "They improved a lot and were a very coachable group. We won a lot of close matches lately. This one we just couldn't finish."
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or email@example.com.