Signal Mountain's high school volleyball team has taken the first big step of what it hopes will be a deep postseason run.
Signal beat visiting Red Bank 25-5, 25-18, 25-14 to win the District 7-AA championship Thursday night and set up home-court advantage for the next phase.
"We're super excited to win district because that means we get to host region," Signal Mountain coach Bailee Barrett said. "But this is just one step along the way. They have big goals for this season, but we have to make sure that our eyes are fixed on every single game."
Signal Mountain (38-7) got off to a dominant start in the first set, jumping out to a 9-1 lead and finishing with nine straight points to take the set.
"I think a lot of it was pregame jitters," Red Bank coach Savannah Nelson said. "We have three freshman that are starting that have never been in this situation before. As a team, it's discouraging mentally, especially against an experienced team like this."
Red Bank (19-19) was a completely different team in the second set, trading points with the Lady Eagles throughout. The score was tied halfway through the set at 13-13, and the Lady Lions trailed just 20-18 before Signal Mountain scored the final five points.
"The first set was definitely a confidence builder for us," Barrett said. "But we didn't really adjust too well in that second set. Volleyball is a game of momentum, and it can change very quickly."
Said Nelson: "The second set is the best we've ever played against them. We can take that second set as something we can build on moving into the postseason."
The dramatic second set took a lot out of the Lady Lions emotionally, and it showed at the beginning of the third, when Signal Mountain got off to a 16-0 start.
Red Bank refused to give up, outscoring the Lady Eagles 14-8 throughout the rest of the set. The fast start was too much to overcome, however, and Signal Mountain went on to win the set, giving them the match and the district title.
"Being disciplined has been a focus of ours," Barrett said. "We have concentrated on making sure we are in the right place on defense and consistently make smart choices."
Maia Rackel and Cora Hansen led the Lady Eagles with eight kills each. Rackel also had 15 digs, while Lowry was one behind. Kate Barry set for 31 assists.
Mya Kennebrew had five kills for the Lady Lions, while Zoe Helms, Shelby Romans and Hanna Wood had three digs apiece and Wood added three assists.
Signal Mountain will host the region playoffs next Tuesday against Livingston Academy, while Red Bank will face Upperman.