Soddy-Daisy did everything but win the first set Tuesday in its District 5-AAA high school volleyball match against Ooltewah. From there, Ooltewah did everything including win the match at Soddy-Daisy, 3-0.
Set scores were 25-21, 25-12, 25-20.
Despite having libero Hannah Robertson out with a concussion and setter Chloe Mitchell out with muscle spasms in the back and neck, the Lady Trojans not only competed with the district-leading Lady Owls but led them 16-11. Ooltewah rallied to 19-19 before Soddy-Daisy went back up one when a Lady Owl's serve went long. Ooltewah then scored five of the next six points and closed it out.
The Lady Owls never trailed in the second set, taking a 6-1 lead and forcing an early timeout. Their largest lead was 13. The first of seven occasions was at 17-4.
Soddy-Daisy stayed within five points throughout the third set, but its only lead was 1-0.
"We were competitive in the first and third," Soddy-Daisy coach Lorri Johnson said. "The second set our passing backed down and we weren't able to hit at all.
"We hung with them to point 20," Johnson said of the first set. "It was neck and neck up until then. Letting it slip away like we did ultimately impacted game two."
Said Ooltewah coach Elaine Peigen: "I don't think we were really ready to play. We started flat. We've got a lot of work to do between now and district-tournament time."
In the meantime, Ooltewah (12-4, 4-0) has a two-match lead over the rest of the district. It and Soddy-Daisy (14-8, 3-2) were the only two of the seven teams in the district that had better than .500 league records entering the match.
"I keep stressing how important it is to be that number one seed," said Peigen, whose team has been top-seeded in the last three district tournaments. "There's no peace of mind in our district. We'd like to go undefeated. You can't go back on your heels. We'd like to be going forward and keep winning."
Peigen did pass some praise around, particularly for Josie Cain and her team-leading 23 digs. Courtlyn Ison led the hitting with 16 kills and Alex Biro supported with 11 kills and led with 2.5 blocks.
"Courtlyn and Biro terminated the ball," Peigen said. "Biro didn't miss a hit."
Alexis Godsey served five aces for the Lady Owls, and Hanna Matthews set 29 assists.
With Robertson out, Lauren Smith paced the Lady Trojans with 16 digs. In place of Mitchell, Kirstie Williams led with 17 assists. Karigan Fulghum led in kills with eight, and Abby Walker topped them in aces with four.
"I tried several people in several positions," Johnson said. "Ball-handling issues were definitely there. I told the girls, 'It's not where we are in September but rather in October.' We'll be fine. We just need to get healthy."
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.