Arts & Sciences' Lady Patriots probably felt they should've won the first set Tuesday against Boyd-Buchanan in their District 5-A high school volleyball match at CSAS. But as things turned out, it didn't matter, because they won the others.
CSAS moved into sole possession of first place in the district standings by defeating the Lady Buccaneers 3-1. Set scores were 21-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-12.
The Lady Patriots' 5-0 league record also includes 3-2 victories over Grace Academy and Silverdale Baptist Academy. They trailed Grace 2-0, so squandering the first set Tuesday -- when they scored the first four points and never trailed until one of Katie Delay's three aces in the match broke a tie at 21 for the Lady Bucs -- didn't seem to disturb them.
"We've had such an up-and-down season," CSAS coach Samantha Everett said. "We've gotten lucky and been catching some breaks. Tonight we showed a lot of heart and pulled together. We played with enthusiasm and we were self-controlled."
CSAS (8-4) led from 5-4 on in the second and third sets, then saved its best for last. With Everett setting the example, the Lady Patriots' bench exuded spirit and joy down the stretch as their team reeled off the final 11 points in succession.
"I think it was a situation where we knew, but we were not going to talk about it," Everett said of the tension of a match between teams that were unbeaten in district play. "You have to put on that face and show that you're relaxed, having fun and make sure everybody sees that."
Boyd-Buchanan coach Ashley Rose said she felt her players underestimated CSAS.
"I think they thought they were going to walk in here and win 3-0," Rose said. "We didn't play that way. If we had played with that mindset and that self-confidence, I think things could've gone the other way."
Libero Brianna Taylor had 31 digs and contributed seven aces in the victory. Brooke Mitchell led the Lady Patriots at the net with 12 kills and three blocks, and Ashley Boles set 15 assists.
Boyd-Buchanan (15-11, 3-1), which was state runner-up last season but has several new contributors this year, was sparked by some veterans. Kristen Reynolds' all-around effort included 12 kills, 14 assists, 11 digs and three aces. Delay made 26 digs and Halie Williamson totaled 16 assists.
"As far as experience, definitely we lack it," Rose said. "But as a coach you're thinking the more we play, the more that kind of goes away. We've either played really well or really bad. When we're on we serve, defend, attack and block well. When we're not, we're equally terrible at everything.
"We want to be known for winning and winning districts. We've got to play like it."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
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.