The good news for Bradley Central’s volleyball team Tuesday night was the return of all-state player Brooke Copeland.
The bad news is the end result didn’t go their way as Soddy-Daisy came into Jim Smiddy Arena and claimed a 3-1 District 5-AAA victory.
“With Brooke only having been back on the court for three days (for practice), plus we had a new libero tonight, we were a little out of sync at first and dug ourselves a big hole,” commented Bearette head coach Christie McElhaney. “It took us to the third game to get things going right, and then we had a bad stretch that cost us the fourth game.”
The Lady Trojans dominated the first two games of the match, posting 25-15 and 25-19 victories, before Bradley dominated the third set 25-13. Soddy was able to finish off the evening with a 25-23 battle of streaks in the finale.
“We played well the first two games, but then had a lull in our passing that cost us in the third game,” assessed Lady Trojan coach Lorri Johnson. “We were sort of hit-and-miss in Game 4, but we were able to execute well down the stretch.”
After losing its first two district matches this season to Walker Valley and Ooltewah, Soddy has bounced back with four straight 5-AAA wins, plus stands at 23-8 overall.
Bradley Central is 14-9 overall and 2-4 in district play.
“That’s (2-4) not where I wanted to be at the halfway point of the season. It’s not just that we haven’t had Brooke. We’ve had a problem with unforced errors and service errors all season, and that cost us again tonight,” declared coach McElhaney after her squad had a dozen service errors and 33 unforced errors, including 14 in the final set.
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Bearettes as cross-county rival Walker Valley comes to Smiddy Arena Thursday evening.
After the teams split the first 20 of the evening, Soddy went on an 8-1 run to pull away and then finished the opening set by downing six of the final eight points.
The visitors stayed hot to open the second set, scoring the first half dozen points and building an 11-2 advantage before Bradley finally got going with an 8-3 streak to trim the deficit. A 5-1 run later in the game pulled the Bearettes within three points of the lead, but Soddy closed out the final three points for a 2-0 lead.
After the Lady Trojans scored the opening three points of the third set, the Bearettes turned things around with an 8-1 run and later capped their lone victory of the evening with a 6-0 that included three kills and a block by Copeland, plus a pair of aces from junior Chanler Grady.
The final set was a see-saw of streaks with Bradley jumping ahead 5-1 to open the finale, but the Lady Trojans answered with a 4-1 run. The hosts once again posted a 5-1 spurt, but the visitors rallied for a 9-2 run to take the lead.
After trailing by as much as five points twice, Bradley was able to close the gap to 23-22, but Soddy was able to get a pair of kills in the match’s final three points to take the victory.
Lauren Smith had 23 digs and eight kills for the Lady Trojans, while Chloe Mitchell handed out 23 assists, and dug out a dozen shots. Abby Walker added nine kills and nine digs, with libero Hannah Robertson digging out 17 shots. Haley Reynolds helped out with seven kills and a trio of blocks, while Karigan Fulghum had a dozen digs.
For Bradley, senior “Twin Towers” Copeland and Rebecca Reuter had 17 kills apiece, with the 6-foot-2 Copeland adding 13 digs and a pair of blocks, while the 6-foot-3 Reuter blocked three shots and dug out seven balls.
Putting on the pink libero jersey, sophomore Julia Gaither posted 16 digs, while freshman Halle Hughes dished out 13 assists and added seven digs. Grady handed out 10 helps and had a half dozen digs, while Natalie Jennings had three blocks, three kills and five digs.
Sophomore Monica Johnson garnered 3 1/2 blocks, while McKenna Stinnett handed out eight assists and Lisa Duvall had seven digs, two kills and 1 1/2 blocks.