Ooltewah did not turn in a commanding performance Thursday at Soddy-Daisy, but at least thanks to the Lady Owls' effort, their lead in the District 5-AAA high school volleyball race is commanding.
With its 3-2 victory over the Lady Trojans, Ooltewah (21-2, 7-0) owns a three-match lead over Soddy-Daisy (23-9, 4-3) and East Hamilton (11-8, 4-3) in the league standings with five to play. Set scores were 25-19, 22-25, 22-25, 25-13, 15-13.
"It was a good win," Ooltewah coach Elaine Peigen said. "We just did it the hard way."
Last year the Lady Owls ended up being top-seeded in the district tournament, but that was after tiebreaking procedures with fellow tri-champions Soddy-Daisy and Bradley Central. They still have the goal of going undefeated in the league.
"We don't want to get caught up in a tie again," Peigen said.
Three of the Lady Trojans' losses -- one being in the Choo Choo tournament -- have come against the Lady Owls. Soddy-Daisy coach Lorri Johnson said Thursday's match had the feel of a district final, which is the next time she hopes to see them.
"We're catching them, little by little," Johnson said. "There's a lot of season left. Three weeks, I think. Ooltewah is sitting on top pretty well.
"But it's not here that matters. It's October. If we can stay second we'd be away from them until the finals. But we can't take that for granted."
Down 2-1, the Lady Owls never trailed in the fourth set. The only tie was at 1.
They took a 10-5 lead in the fifth, but Soddy-Daisy fought back and tied at 11 and again at 12 before taking a point lead. Ooltewah then scored three consecutive points and sealed it.
"We started passing and hitting," Peigen said in explaining the comeback. "And we didn't miss any serves, I don't think. Soddy-Daisy has a great team. They came ready to play ball tonight. It's nice to know our girls can pull together and get a win by not giving up."
Courtlyn Ison and Sidney Killingsworth led the Lady Owls with 12 kills apiece, and not only did Alex Biro lead with four and a half blocks, she added 11 kills -- many, Peigen said, "when we really needed them." The coach also praised Bethany Spange, who totaled six kills and 12 digs, for making several smart plays.
Hanna Matthews led Ooltewah in assists with 43. Josie Cain led the back-row play with 25 digs.
Abby Walker paced Soddy-Daisy in kills with eight, and Karigan Fulghum, Haley Reynolds, and Lauren Smith contributed seven each. Fulgham led the Trojans with 24 digs and Reynolds led with four blocks. Chloe Mitchell set for 29 assists.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.