ROGERSVILLE — For a set, Cherokee was able to go toe-to-toe with Morristown West in their District 2-AAA volleyball matchup, but eventually the Lady Trojans’ power at the net and ability to pinpoint served proved too much.
Morristown West took the 3-0 sweep Thursday night at Cherokee High School, 25-19, 25-9, 25-9.
The slow start is something that Lady Trojans coach Natalee Gruse feels like is a common problem for her team.
“We’re not great when we get off the bus, but they pulled it out and that’s what mattered,” Gruse said. “It’s a mental toughness thing and we’ve struggled with it for the last two years. We’re struggling to get past it. It showed its ugly head again. When we put our foot down and stopped making mistakes, we pulled ahead.”
Cherokee took the early lead in the game, 6-2, with a new line up as coach Ashley Wilson tries to rebound with a young roster after losing seven seniors to graduation last season. With Arran Harrell at the line serving, the Lady Chiefs put some early distance between them and Morristown West.
“That was our first time in that rotation,” Wilson said. “Our libero (Mallie Cole), that was her first time playing that position. We made that switch because we needed something consistent. That made our passing better. I’m pleased overall. We felt more comfortable, so I’m glad we found something and are all on the same page.”
Once the Lady Trojans did take command, they didn’t surrender it back with kills and blocks stacking up from Makayla Coffey, Taylor Simmons and Nina Hodges.
“We focused on the skills we work on every day in practice, having fun with it and playing to their ability,” Gruse said. “Our girls have worked quite a bit in placing our serves and we did a good job at that.”
After a tight opening game win, 25-19, Morristown West was on cruise control the rest of the way.
Simmons and Lila Lewis were especially deadly at the service line, stacking up points and aces as each dish put the Lady Trojans further ahead.
Cherokee couldn’t put any scoring streaks together to stop the bleeding, in spite of stellar net work from Jennah Powell, Cassie Cooper and some surprise outside hitting from Gracie Weems.
“They (Morristown West) are always a powerhouse in our conference,” Wilson said. “It didn’t fall our way, but it looked a lot better. Gracie Weems is small, but I put her on the outside so I could see what she could do. We’re looking for consistency. We’re versatile and we’re young and are trying to find the pieces. It’s all about learning.”
The Lady Trojans took both final games 25-9, with Kendall Mattison polishing off Cherokee at the service line for three straight points to end the match.