Red Bank's Lady Lions seemed to have it, then looked like they lost it, then ended up having it after all.
Red Bank not only squandered the lead it had taken by winning the second and third sets in Tuesday's high school volleyball match against East Hamilton, but in the fourth set the Lady Lions looked like a different team than had been on the floor earlier. Or maybe it was the Lady Hurricanes who looked like a different team.
Either way the match between District 6-AA's unbeatens came down to a nail-biting finish, and by capturing the last two points the Lady Lions were able to escape from their home gym with a 3-2 victory. The set scores were 22-25, 25-16, 25-18, 12-25, 15-13.
The eight teams in the district may play each other more than once in the course of a particular season, but one is all that counts in the standings. This one counted.
Red Bank (21-5, 5-0), which hasn't lost to a league opponent in a match that counted since moving to this district four years ago, has league matches left against Hixson and East Ridge. East Hamilton (23-10, 4-1) has district matches remaining with Central and East Ridge.
"This was big," Red Bank coach Christel Brooks said. "It doesn't clinch the district, but it puts us in the driver's seat to be the top seed in the tournament.
"They have a great team. Personally, I think our district has two of the best teams in our classification in the state. It was a battle. It went five, right down to the end, 15-13. You can't get much closer than that."
Her Lady Lions were in good shape heading into the fourth set, but East Hamilton put together two long scoring streaks -- the first behind Kylie Scruggs' serve and the second with Morgan Phillips serving -- and won the fourth set handily.
Scruggs had two early kills in the fifth set around a kill by Red Bank's Ansley Helton. A kill by Savannah Nelson evened the score, sending Helton to server, and the Lady Lions responded with a run of five points for a 7-2 lead.
The Lady Hurricanes battled back to make it 9-9 and eventually took a 13-12 lead on Emma Lenoir's team-best fourth ace in the match. A kill by Helton got the serve back for Red Bank, which then got its third ace of the day from Hannah Wilson before clinching it when an East Hamilton spike went wide.
"You can't play good one game and bad the next," East Hamilton coach Kristy Lenoir said. "We've got to be more consistent."
Nelson played despite some back problems and led the Lady Lions with 19 kills and four blocks. Abby Graham's 35 assists and Autumn Babb's 27 digs were team highs. Shelby Hayes' all-around effort included 15 kills, two blocks, three aces and 20 digs.
The Lady Hurricanes' leaders included Scruggs with 22 kills, Phillips with 15 digs and Briley Considine with four blocks. Lenoir led with 20 assists and also contributed 17 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 email@example.com.