Boyd-Buchanan's Lady Buccaneers brought poise and a killer instinct to Silverdale Baptist Academy for the District 5-A high school volleyball championship match. And if those things combined with their execution didn't produce their "A" game Tuesday, it had to be something mighty close.
Each of the last two seasons Boyd-Buchanan and Silverdale have battled for district supremacy, and five-set matches were usually the result. But this time the Lady Bucs put it all together on the way to a 3-0 victory and their fifth consecutive district championship. Set scores were 25-18, 25-15, 25-23.
Boyd-Buchanan (27-13) will play Lookout Valley and Silverdale (23-11) will play District 6 champion Sale Creek (31-14) in Monday's Region 3 semifinals at Silverdale. Winners will play Tuesday at 5 for the title. Both region finalists will advance to state sectionals.
The Lady Bucs' Katie Delay was first to serve, and by the time she was finished they led the first set 6-0. Coach Ashley Rose began sensing good vibes then, if not sooner.
"Even from the time we left school I felt these girls were focused and very intense," Rose said. "They knew what they wanted to do here. That makes my job a lot easier."
The Lady Seahawks rebounded from the first-set loss and started the second 4-0. But again behind Delay's service, Boyd-Buchanan reeled off eight consecutive points and eventually led as much as 23-12.
Five of Jessica Kirk's 12 kills in the match were in the 8-0 hot streak. She also totaled 15 digs and three aces and was selected the tournament's most valuable player.
"There's definitely a few of us that at least have at least gone through similar experiences," said Kirk, a four-year starter who was a freshman on a state-title team and a sophomore on a state runner-up. "We've been around big crowds in games with high stakes. We were under control of our emotions and were able to shake things off whenever something did go bad. We were just on."
The last set was close all the way with the last of 11 ties coming at 21. Kristen Reynolds broke the tie with a kill and the Lady Bucs closed it out from there.
"Boyd played pretty much mistake-free and we didn't," Silverdale coach Rhonda Hawkins said. "They played one of the best games I've ever seen them play. They brought it and we didn't.
"I don't know if it was nerves. I don't know what it was. I hope it doesn't happen again."
Leaders for the Lady Bucs included Delay with 30 digs and Lindsey Yates with 22 assists.
Kerri Whittaker paced the Lady Seahawks with 16 digs and two aces. Mackenzie Harris led with seven kills and Katelyn Couch led with 11 assists.
Sale Creek wins 6-A
In the District 6-A championship match at Sale Creek, Erin Hill sparked Sale Creek's 3-0 victory over Lookout Valley with 22 kills, 11 digs, three aces and three blocks. Set scores were 25-13, 25-15, 25-8.
Sale Creek coach Debbie Hill said the Lady Yellow Jackets may have "played themselves out" in their grueling semfinal win over Whitwell right before.
"We played really well," Coach Hill said. "We did the little things right. Our setter did a great job, and we hit the ball really well."
The Lady Panthers' setter is Megan Storey, who had seven digs and four aces to go with her 27 assists. Krissy Hodge had a team-high 13 digs in addition to 10 kills.
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.