Red Bank's Lionettes are proving again in 2013 that unseating them at the top of the District 6-AA high school volleyball standings isn't going to be easy.
Despite having a 12-16 overall record, Red Bank has worked through its five district matches to date unscathed. On Tuesday at Red Bank, the Lionettes rallied for a 3-2 victory over Hixson, which also came into the match unbeaten in the district. Set scores were 24-26, 25-23, 17-25, 25-23, 15-5.
In recent years Red Bank battled mainly East Hamilton for supremacy in the district, but the Lady Hurricanes moved up a classification this year. The Lionettes graduated a great deal of production off last year's team, and assistant coach Mandi Munn took over as head coach for Christel Brooks, who resigned to spend more time with family.
The opportunity seemed there for some other district teams to make a run at the regular-season championship. Yet here the Lionettes are again at the top.
"Expectations are there," Munn said. "The girls know it."
Red Bank has clinched at least a tie for the district regular-season title, but East Ridge could still emerge as the No. 1-seeded team in the district tournament. The Lady Pioneers would have to win home matches Thursday against Hixson and next Tuesday against Red Bank to be top-seeded.
If the Lady Wildcats win Thursday, Red Bank would be seeded first. Otherwise the top seeding will be decided when the Lionettes travel to East Ridge.
"Being No. 1 would be a big help," Munn said. "I really think it comes down to the girls believing in themselves. It would give them confidence and excitement."
Munn said the key Tuesday was the reset her players made after the third set -- one in which they trailed by 10 points. Hixson coach Janet Tate was looking for a killer instinct from her Lady Wildcats but didn't get it.
"The fourth game I thought we were too casual. We did not have a sense of urgency," Tate said. "It was a big match. I intended on it going four. That's it."
Hixson (15-19, 3-1) never led in the fifth set and watched as Red Bank reeled off the final eight points. Tate said she thought the fourth-set loss may have led to the fifth-set letdown, although she wasn't sure why.
"It's a game of ups and downs," Tate said. "Momentum always is something you have to control."
Four Lionettes had at least seven kills, paced by Ally Walker's 13. Other leaders were Autumn Babb with 40 digs, Abby Graham with 22 assists, Dani Usher with six blocks and KiKi Adkins with five aces. Caitlyn Jenkins' all-around performance included 11 kills, 33 digs and two aces.
Paige Lawson topped the Lady Wildcats in kills with 23, and Abby Tipton led with 27 digs. Tatyona Staten was the blocks leader with three. Ciera Taylor led with 23 assists and four aces and also chipped in with 13 kills, 13 digs and two blocks.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.