Lady Longhorns reach final, lose to Volunteer

Photo by Dave Boyd
Elizabethton's Trish McNeely makes a set.

By Michelle Pope
Elizabethton High's volleyball team hosted the Cyclone Invitational Saturday, giving teams the opportunity to test their tactics against one another.
Volunteer's Lady Falcons took the championship, winning a bye in the preliminary games, and then defeating the Greeneville Lady Devils and beating the Johnson County Lady Longhorns in the championship match.
Johnson County, won all four preliminary games it played, and also received a bye in the tournament.
Their first pre-tournament match of the day was against Volunteer. The Lady Longhorns took the first win with scores of 25-19, 22-25, and 15-12.
Johnson County's second game against Cocke County ended with a quick win of 25-12 and 25-10. During game three, Chuckey-Doak gave more resistance, but the Lady Longhorns took the win again in only two sets, beating the Lady Knights with 25-18 and 25-16.
The Lady Longhorns' last preliminary match was against Greeneville. Johnson County defeated the Lady Devils in two sets, scoring 25-19 and 25-16.
Elizabethton won one of four preliminary matches. They were defeated by Cocke County in three sets, losing the first with 16-25, winning the second with 25-23, and barely losing the third with a score of 14-16.
The Lady Cyclones won their second match of the day, giving Chuckey-Doak a head-start with 22-25, then coming back to take the win in the next two sets with scores of 25-22 and 15-12.
Match four for Elizabethton went to Greeneville with scores of 14-25 and 16-25. The soon-to-be tournament winner Volunteer Lady Falcons defeated Elizabethton in their fourth preliminary game with 17-25 and 19-25.
The first set of tournament matches in Treadway Gym were played simultaneously, with Greeneville defeating Cocke County, and Chuckey-Doak defeating Elizabethton.
The Lady Cyclones had a tough first set against the Lady Knights. Trish McNeely had three kills in the first set for Elizabethton and Jennie Powell scored three points on kills and one on an ace.
Despite their efforts, and with a few Cyclone outs added to kills by Molly Scott, Holly McAmis and two aces by Summer Taylor and Rikki Jones, Chuckey-Doak took the set with a score of 25-13.
In the second set, after a 6-point scoring run by the Lady Knights, the Elizabethton girls took matters into their own hands. With three kills by the Lady Cyclones and an ace serve from Alicia Crawford, Elizabethton tied the score at seven and played with renewed intensity.
The lead switched back and forth several times, and after kills from Emilee Berry, Jennie Powell, Crawford, and Kristi Bowling, and an ace from Powell, Elizabethton tied the game again at 24 and then took the second set 26-24.
The third set was a close contest as well. The two teams played leap-frog with the lead, each pulling ahead by one or two points repetitively. With the score at 10-9 in Chuckey-Doak's favor, the Lady Knights went on a 4-point scoring run, allowing Elizabethton to reach 11 before taking the match with 15 points.
"I was hoping that today we could be more consistent and we didn't do that, and we were letting our emotions get in the way of the game," Elizabethton coach Leslee Bradley said. "You have to play hard; you can't let your emotions get in the way."
In Elizabethton's tournament match, Trish McNeely contributed four kills and four assists, Emilee Berry had four kills, Jennie Powell had six aces and four assists, and Alicia Crawford made ten digs.
"We played pretty hard, but I definitely think we could have played harder, and played more as a team," Emilee Berry said after the match.
She said that the first win, over the Lady Knights, definitely boosted the team's confidence. "We came out stronger, and even though they beat us, we still played strong. It's hard to keep that momentum going."
For the day, McNeely led the assists with 21, Berry led in kills, having 20 and making 29 digs, Brandi Forbes had 17 kills, Jennie Powell served 18 aces, and Rachel Osbourne made 23 digs in the two matches that she played.
Osbourne was injured in the first set of Elizabethton's second match of the day against Chuckey-Doak, and was unable to play the remainder of the day.
"Having Rachel Osbourne get hurt, which was in one of our first matches - she got hurt in the first game of our second match. I think we would have won that game had she not been hurt, and it would have changed the way the day went for us."
Bradley echoed Berry's statement that the team had more confidence during the second match against Chuckey-Doak after defeating them earlier in the day. "We didn't give up because we knew that they were a team that we could play against," Bradley said.
Johnson County's first tournament match was against Chuckey-Doak after the Lady Knights defeated Elizabethton in the first game. The Lady Longhorns took the win in two sets, scoring 25-15 in the first game and 25-20 in the second.
The championship match paired Johnson County against Volunteer, and the skill of both teams were similar, drawing the match into a difficult battle for each team.
Volunteer slipped by with the first win, scoring 25 on Johnson County's 22, despite repetitive kills from Ryann Tillman and Katie Nelson. Both teams played with extreme intensity, keeping the ball in a constant rally when players weren't spiking down kills.
The second set and the tournament also went to Volunteer with a score of 25 to Johnson County's 15. Volunteer's Brittany Mabe had 11 kills, Ashleah Dykes had 7 kills and 4 aces, and Ashley Bennett had 3 aces and 8 assists.
"This has been a great tournament," said Volunteer head coach Tina Evans. "There's not really been one dominating team. You want to go to a tournament thinking that you have a shot, and everybody had a shot."
With the tournament lasting from 9 a.m. to almost 7:30 p.m., most of the teams were exhausted by the end of the day.
"I think they were (tired by the end of the day)," said Johnson County Coach Michele Cooke.
"I think they were mentally worn out. I'm proud of them. Volunteer's a good team. We beat them this morning, and it's hard to beat any team twice in a day."
During the tournament match, Laura Peters led Johnson County in digs, with 18, followed by Katie Nelson's 11. Ryann Tillman led the kills with 4.