Signal Mountain's Lady Eagles may have felt they were the better team in Thursday's District 7-AA high school volleyball match at Chattanooga Christian, rather than the team that played better.
But regardless of labels, it was Signal Mountain that came away victorious, 3-2 over the Lady Chargers. Set scores were 17-25, 25-18, 21-25, 25-23, 15-10.
"We were lucky to come out of here with a win, 100 percent," said Signal Mountain coach Jennifer Redman, whose team improved to 15-4 overall and 2-0 in the district. "They played awesome. I'm glad we won. But I can't say anything positive."
CCS was dealt a setback on the first rally of the third set. Emily Henderson, who had sparked the Lady Chargers up to that point with six kills and three aces, injured her left ankle. She after the match in a walking boot and on crutches.
CCS coach Brian Wood said he felt his team lost focus momentarily because of the injury, although the Lady Chargers ended up winning the set. But despite playing the Lady Eagles close the rest of the way, they were unable to pull off the victory.
"If you look at the way our season is going, we're on the cusp of being a very, very good volleyball team," Wood said. "We just have to play more team volleyball. They did that very well today."
Wood had praise in particular for Cassie Curry, who led CCS with eight kills. The coach said she had never been asked to play outside hitter but did so after Henderson's injury. Madison Schuster topped the Lady Chargers with six aces and two blocks, and Hannah Stewart had four aces and led in digs with 19.
CCS (9-11, 2-1) is hoping for a quick return to the court for Henderson, who is expected to get an X-ray on her ankle in the next day or two. Besides Curry, only Schuster's seven kills were more than Henderson had in the two sets to which she was limited.
"I think Emily has come a long way from where she started," Wood said. "She's been taking a more consistent swing and looking for open spots on the court, instead of trying to hit everything with power."
Taelor Kellum led the net play for Signal Mountain with 23 kills and four blocks. Amanda Thielges totaled 35 assists and Aryn Sanders made 33 digs.
The district-leading Lady Eagles have two league matches next week, including one with Notre Dame (3-1 7-AA). Redman hopes her players learned something Thursday and not at the expense of a loss.
"I hope they learned they need to come ready to play," Redman said. "Not that we were thinking this was going to be easy. We just have to bring our 'A' game. Everybody else does when they're playing us."
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.