The record will show Soddy-Daisy defeated Ooltewah for the District 5-AAA tournament championship. Realistically, the Lady Trojans persevered.
In a match involving some extreme scoring ebbs and flows, Soddy-Daisy beat the Lady Owls 3-2 in Wednesday’s championship match at Walker Valley. Game scores were 19-25, 25-9, 17-25, 25-16, 16-14.
Soddy-Daisy (47-9) will host the Region 3 tournament and will play Warren County in one of Monday’s semifinals. Ooltewah (30-11) will play District 6 champion Cookeville in the other. The winners will play Tuesday for the championship.
Soddy-Daisy is now 19-0 in best-of-five matches on the season. Wednesday marked the first time one of them went to a fifth game.
The Lady Trojans had beaten Ooltewah in both district regular-season meetings, but the Lady Owls ignored that and started off scoring nine of the first 11 points.
“I knew Ooltewah was getting better everytime they were going out,” Soddy-Daisy coach Lorri Johnson said. “Their young players were maturing as the season was going along. I knew we were in for a fight, no question.
“There were a lot of momentum swings both ways. Ultimately we finished it off.”
Momentum swung the other way in the second set with Soddy-Daisy leading as much as 21-5, then matching that margin by winning game point.
The Lady Trojans had a 7-0 run in the third set, but it didn’t come until they were behind 23-9. Ooltewah had made an 8-0 run earlier.
The fourth game was 2-2 early on, but Soddy-Daisy eventually built a lead as high as 21-10.
Although the Lady Owls never led in the deciding game, they battled back from being down by five midway through and caught the Lady Trojans at 14. Tournament most valuable player Rachel Shaughnessy broke the tie with one of her 22 kills, then the match ended when the lead official called one of the Ooltewah players for a lift.
“It never should’ve come down to that,” Ooltewah coach Elaine Peigen said.
Johnson gave credit to her six seniors, whose maturity and determination were what enabled the Lady Trojans to persist. One, libero Sarah Davis, led them in digs with 24. Another, Olivia Holden, led them with 35 assists.
Loren Bennett topped the Lady Owls with 14 kills and 21 assists. Kianna Delaney contributed 11 kills, 5.5 blocks and 13 digs. Izabela Zdnek was the digs leader with 17.
“If you don’t serve, or serve receive, you’re not going to win ballgames,” said Peigen, whose team missed 11 serves in the match.
“We played with heart. I thought they did a good job. I know they’re disappointed, but it’s not over.”
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.