Coming off an emotional victory over back-to-back TSSAA Top 6 finisher Cleveland on Tuesday, Walker Valley's Lady Mustangs took a little bit to get their footing Thursday before sweeping past …
Coming off an emotional victory over back-to-back TSSAA Top 6 finisher Cleveland on Tuesday, Walker Valley's Lady Mustangs took a little bit to get their footing Thursday before sweeping past visiting McMinn County.
"We were coming off a big district win just two days ago and we didn't come out strong tonight," assessed first-year head coach Aubrey Reagan after her Herd notched 25-19, 25-17, 25-13 set scores.
"This is a much better McMinn team than they've had in the past. They took advantage of our mistakes early on. I'm proud of the way we were able to overcome the lapses and became more focused in the second and third sets."
After making 11 unforced errors in the opening set, Walker Valley made just three each in the second and third games.
"We played good, but we can play better," remarked Lady Mustang Melody McRee, who had a trio of kills and a block in the victory. "When we start to struggle, we just need to keep talking and encouraging each other to push through it and work harder."
With the victory, the Lady Mustangs are 14-10 on the season and tied with the Lady Raiders atop the District 5-AAA standings with a 5-1 league mark.
"We play at Ooltewah next week (Tuesday) and Bradley (Sept. 27) the week after," Coach Reagan related.
Walker Valley will also face Soddy-Daisy (Sept. 20) and CSAS (Sept. 25) in non-district competition before the 5-AAA tournament begins Oct. 1 in Ooltewah.
The Lady Mustangs put the first five points on "The Stable's" scoreboards Thursday evening, but the Athens Tribe answered with four of their own, including a pair of power slams from Kaitlynn Hennessee.
"That No. 12 (Hennessee) can hit as hard as anyone in the district," Coach Reagan commented. "They've got some girls that have been playing club ball and are much better than they've been in the past."
Walker Valley was able to stretch its advantage with a 5-1 streak. After the visitors answered with back-to-back points, the Fillies ran off six straight with Sophie Frederick serving up five winners, including a pair of aces and Macy Nipper powering home a couple of spikes.
The hosts maintained their lead until the score was 20-12 before the Lady Cherokees closed the gap with four unanswered points.
A stretch of five WV miscues in a eight-point stretch put the score at 23-19 before the hosts got the serve back for match point. Frederick and Nipper teamed up for a thunder slam to seal the deal.
The Lady Mustangs galloped out to a 10-2 advantage to start the second set, but once again the girls from Athens wouldn't give in, fighting back to tie the score at 12-all, 14-all and 15-all.
Leading by just a point at 17-16, Walker Valley closed out the set with an 8-1 run, including four service winners from senior libero Anna Grace Jackson, including an ace, plus two kills and a block from McRee and a pair of slams from Nipper.
The early part of the final set followed a familiar pattern with WV downing the first four points and McMinn fighting back to close the gap to 7-5.
That would be as close as it would get as the hosts caught fire for a dozen straight points behind the serving of Frederick, who drilled three aces in the stretch.
Nipper downed four points in the run, while McRee and Carissa Frost both spiked kills.
McMinn County was able to fend off four match points before senior Mikayla Beasley drilled the final slam of the night to secure the victory.
Beasley finished with five kills, a half dozen digs, seven service receptions and 20 overall points.
Frederick served up 26 assists, dug out six shots and had five aces for 38 points, while Jackson topped the WV effort with 40 points — 28 digs, 10 service receptions and a pair of aces.
Nipper drilled 15 kills and had a half dozen digs, while Frost finished with nine digs, five service receptions, three slams and a pair of aces.
Laney Harris dug out eight McMinn shots and put a pair of serves in play.
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