published Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Lady 'Canes take title

East Hamilton players signal "one more" before winning the District 3-AA volleyball championship over Red Bank on Tuesday.
East Hamilton players signal "one more" before winning the District 3-AA volleyball championship over Red Bank on Tuesday.
Photo by Tim Barber.

New school beat old school Tuesday at Red Bank.

East Hamilton, a three-year program, defeated Red Bank, a three-years-running district champion, 3-0 in the championship match of the Region 3-AA high school volleyball tournament. Game scores were 25-22, 26-24, 25-20.

East Hamilton beat McMinn Central and the Lady Lions defeated Polk County, both 3-0, in the semifinals.

The Lady Hurricanes (31-10) will host Notre Dame in one of Thursday's state sectionals. Red Bank (34-16) will play at Region 4-AA champion Signal Mountain (34-20). WInners will advance to Murfreesboro, where the state tournament will be held Wednesday through Friday next week.

Red Bank beat fellow District 6 opponent East Hamilton convincingly on the Lady Hurricanes' home floor during the regular-season district match and beat them again 3-0 in the district-tournament final last week at East Ridge.

East Hamilton coach Kristy Lenoir said she made a few defensive changes but mainly thought effort and execution had more to do with winning.

"We just played very, very aggressively tonight," Lenoir said. "We believed we could win. I think the last three or four weeks we've been gaining momentum and we're playing with a lot more confidence.

"Earlier if we played a team with a reputation for being good, my girls I don't think were 100 percent completely sure they could win. They've come a long way from the nine wins they had that first year."

Lady Lions coach Christel Brooks said the sets were much closer in the recent match and tried to warn her players not to be overconfident.

"East Hamilton played us tight in the district finals, even though we won 3-0," Brooks said. "We executed and made the plays at the end. Tonight the sets were close, but it was them that pushed out in the end. They played with a lot more confidence than they had been.

"They controlled the ball and were able to get it to their hitters. We made some unforced errors at crucial times, which at this point in the season you can't do that. The positive thing is we're in the sectionals and our season is still alive. Hopefully we can bounce back and get back on the right track."

Katie Loftin's 14 digs led the Lady Hurricanes in the championship match and she also had three aces. Coach's daughter Emma Lenoir totaled eight kills, 10 assists and 13 digs. Sydney Harris had 17 assists and Kylie Scruggs added seven kills.

Danielle Moore's 12 kills led Red Bank in the title match, and Ansley Helton had 23 digs. Abby Graham led with 30 assists and Savannah Nelson had four blocks.

n Region 4-AA: At Signal Mountain, the hosts defeated Notre Dame 3-1 in the final. Game scores were 28-26, 18-25, 25-21, 25-12.

In the semifinals, Signal's Lady Eagles beat Upperman and the Lady Irish defeated Livingston Academy, each 3-0.

Signal Mountain trailed 24-22 in the first set before rallying to win. After splitting the next two, the Lady Eagles' prosperous start in the fourth game may have been what doomed the Lady Irish.

"It was a hard match to play," said Signal coach Jennifer Redman, whose team has a 3-1 edge on the season. "Both teams were playing well; then for whatever reason we got on a roll in the fourth game. We had them down 10-1, with about three or four aces in there, and they just couldn't recover."

Callie Hildebrand paced the Lady Eagles with 18 kills and 18 digs in the final, and Paige Scudder had 34 assists and 14 digs. Allie Jennings led in digs with 21.

Mary Cate Howard had 13 kills and 15 digs for the Lady Irish. Angie Marini made 28 digs and Alex Guidi had 39 assists and three aces.

about Kelley Smiddie...

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 ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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