GRAY—District One champion Daniel Boone scored the first seven points of the match and went on to a 3-1 triumph over Morristown West Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Region 1-AAA Volleyball Tournament at Bobby Snyder Gymnasium.
The Lady Trailblazers won the first two sets handily by scores of 25-15 and 25-12 before West battled back. The Lady Trojans captured a 25-19 victory in the third game and had an early lead in the fourth before Boone used a 13-2 run to take control and went on to a 26-16 decision.
Daniel Boone wasn’t as fortunate in the region championship, falling to Dobyns-Bennett, 3-1. The Lady Blazers will take a 29-6 worksheet into Thursday’s sectional play at Farragut.
West saw its season come to an end with a 16-12 mark, ending the careers of seniors Katie Wallin, Nina Hodges, Taylor Simmons, Halyn Long, Carly McKenna, Kendall Mattison and Rebecca Noble.
The Lady Trojans, who won the Inter Mountain Conference championship and finished second in the district, couldn’t recover from the slow start in the first set or long scoring runs by Daniel Boone in the other two losses.
Mackenzie Sweigart led the Lady Blazers to victory as she hammered 14 kills as her team more than doubled West’s total with 54. Greyson Stevens added a dozen and Jaycee Jenkins 10.
Jenkins had 23 digs, Laken Jones 18 and McKenna Dietz 13. Dietz had 38 sets in the match and served up three aces. Sweigart wound up with five aces. Dannah Persinger registered four blocks with Dietz, Sweigart and Stevens all getting two.
The Lady Trojans had only 26 kills on the night led by Simmons and Mattison with eight each. Freshman Lila Lewis had six and Noble five.
Wallin led in assists with 21 and digs with 15. Nina Lovelace added 14 digs and Long had nine. Simmons blocked four shots with Hodges and Mattison having two apiece. Lewis served three aces.
West coach Natalee Gruse said her team appeared to be a little bit intimidated at the start. “I honestly thought the girls looked a little scared at the start of the match, That’s the point I tried to make to them that there was no reason for that.”
She added, “After we finally got started, we did a good job. I think the girls realized more and more that we could beat this team. But we made way too many errors again in the fourth game.
“But I thought we still played well against a really good volley ball team in Daniel Boone. The girls played hard and battled all the way.”
Gruse said, “This is a group of girls that will be really tough for us to lose. They’ve worked hard and shown great leadership. They’re a great group of girls. I hate to see them go out like this, but we’ve had a pretty good season.”
Boone coach Chelsea Baker said, “Volleyball is all about energy and momentum. We got off to a great start and then we got a little too comfortable.
“They started playing better and we never got momentum in the third game but the girls came back and played really well in the final set.”
She added, “I thought we hit the ball well, and we played well at the net in blocking shots. It was a good team win.”
In the first set, Stevens put down a kill to open the scoring and Dietz then served three aces as the lead grew to seven.
A hitting error got West on the scoreboard and the Hodges served an ace. Simmons and Mattison had kills and Lewis served an ace as the Lady Trojans fought back within 9-5.
However, Jenkins sandwiched kills around three straight aces by Sweigart and the lead shot back out to 15-6. Hodges had a couple of kills and Simmons scored on a block as West rallied within 17-12. Boone scored the final four points of the set.
Boone grabbed a 3-0 lead to open the second set, but the Lady Trojans battled back to tie it at 3-3. There were six more ties and a couple of lead changes with the final West lead coming at 9-8.
From there the home team scored five straight and then after Mattison had a kill for West, Boone reeled off eight more points and breezed to the win.
The third game was close all the way. West grabbed the lead with three straight points to go up 14-12. The Lady Trojans kept the upper hand the rest of the way, closing the match with a 5-2 run.
Simmons had three straight kills to put the Lady Trojans in front 6-2 in the fourth set before Jenkins and Dietz hammered kills. After Simmons scored on a block for a 7-4 lead, Persinger had back-to-back kills to put the Lady Blazers in front.
West was down by only 10-9 when things turned in a hurry as the winners unleashed another seven-point run and the Lady Trojans never got closer than five.