Signal Mountain volleyball coach Jennifer Redman asked assistant Bailee Chastain how many kills junior Taelor Kellum recorded in the Lady Eagles' Region 4-AA championship victory over Notre Dame.
Chastain, a former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga setter, gave the count of 28 kills in four sets. The numbers confirmed the head coach's opinion.
"Well, that was the Taelor Kellum show," Redman said. "Thank the Lord she's on my team."
The Lady Eagles won 3-1, beginning with a 30-28 decision in the first set. They followed with a 25-9 win, dropped the third set 25-15 and rolled 25-6 in the fourth set.
"In games two and four we had a lot of unforced errors," Notre Dame coach Ted Hackett said. "We couldn't get our passes on."
The Lady Irish also had few answers for Kellum -- the 6-foot-2 hitter who has chosen to play at the University of Florida -- when she found her rhythm.
"Taelor was open a lot and got a lot of kills," Hackett said. "We left a lot of openings she could exploit."
The Lady Eagles (32-21) escaped two set points in the extra-long opener that Kellum closed with two straight kills, providing them with momentum.
"We kind of lost it for a bit," Kellum said, referring to a nine-point run by the Lady Irish. "Then we got back into it. I was getting pretty stressed out."
Signal went up 20-7 in the second set on the way to a 2-0 lead in sets, but Notre Dame (15-21) went on a 9-2 run for an 18-10 lead to cut the gap to 2-1.
The Lady Eagles closed the match with a thumping. Amanda Thielges served for 14 straight points, at least 10 of which Kellum closed with either a kill or block, which put Signal Mountain ahead 15-1 and fueled a boisterous student section.
Notre Dame advanced to the championship match by defeating Livingston Academy 3-1 and will play at Red Bank on Thursday in a sectional. Signal Mountain, which beat Macon County 3-0 in the semifinals, will host Central.
"I brought in some old players [Georgia Paturalski and Callie Hildebrand] yesterday," Redman said, "to give them a pep talk and get them ready."
The Lady Eagles were ready -- especially Kellum.
Contact David Uchiyama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...