Last Thursday, amid all the ruckus during a fifth set of a two-hour thriller that was the TSSAA District 6-AA volleyball championship match, Hixson coach Janet Tate sat on the far end of her team's bench observing. She looked calm, resting her chin in her hand.
"I was tough in those early years," said Tate, whose school administrators have known from the beginning of the season she would be resigning effective at the end of the Lady Wildcats' season. "I had them running the bleachers, running to the school and all the way back. I've mellowed, which is a good thing. I can still get after it when I need to. East Hamilton was a beautiful match."
And this coming from the coach whose team was on the losing end. Each team totaled 104 points. The Lady Hurricanes had a few more in the right place.
Both teams have moved on to the Region 3 tournament, which starts Monday at Kingston. Semifinals are elimination matches. Region finalists move on to Thursday's state sectionals, which Hixson has reached each of the last three years, including winning in 2015 and gaining the program's first state-tournament berth.
"Kingston has got to come first," Tate said of the Lady Wildcats' semifinal opponent, "or there won't be a sectional."
Tate is currently at Loftis Middle School and in her 38th year of teaching overall. There were three years when she was out of coaching completely, but otherwise she has been a head coach or an assistant in volleyball, softball or basketball since the 1982-83 school year.
She said she still plans to teach beyond this year, as well as continuing to coach the volleyball program at Loftis. She hasn't ruled out coaching at the high school level again but said she's been doing for others for so long that she's ready to do something for herself.
"I'm ready," Tate said. "I'm good. It's time."
DII-A East Region
Visiting Christian Academy of Knoxville upended District 2 tournament champion Notre Dame 3-2 as all four Chattanooga-area teams lost their quarterfinal matches. Boyd-Buchanan also played at home and lost to The King's Academy 3-1.
District 1 champion Knoxville Webb hosted Silverdale Baptist Academy and runner-up Concord Christian hosted Chattanooga Christian with both home teams winning 3-0.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.
(All times Eastern)
* 3-AAA Monday at Cleveland: 5—Walker Valley vs. Cookeville; 6:30—Warren County vs. Cleveland. Tuesday: 6—Championship
* 4-AA Tuesday at Signal Mountain: 4:30—Red Bank vs. Upperman; 6—Livingston Academy vs. Signal Mountain; 7:30—Championship
* 3-AA Monday at Kingston: 5—Hixson vs. Kingston; 6—Loudon vs. East Hamilton; 7—Championship
* 3-A Monday at Sale Creek: 4:30—Community vs. Sale Creek; 6—Marion County vs. Columbia Academy; 7:30—Championship
Chattanooga-area TSSAA all-district teams
* 6-AAA: Kylie Brincks, Kyleigh Ward, Soddy-Daisy. Second team: Rachel Rader, Soddy-Daisy.
* 5-AAA: Kaitlynn Hennessee, McMinn County; Missy Abbott, Emily Peterson, Bradley Central; Mabry Carpenter, Macy Milliken, Cheyenne Sales, Ooltewah; Carly Buckner, Sophie Frederick, Aly Grace Lemons, Hannah Grace Moore, Walker Valley; Joy Douglas, Sophia Lakatosh, Hannah Longley, Lydia Martin, Anna Renshaw, Emma Flowers (MVP), Cleveland.
* 7-AA: Kristen Weaver, Grundy County; Lauren Thompson, Sequatchie County; Mya Kennebrew, Bailee Phillips, Red Bank; Kate Barry, Cora Hansen, Maia Rackel, Signal Mountain.
* 6-AA: Azia Houser, Howard; Monique Baker, Casiee Jordan, East Ridge; Kerri Sylvester, Taleah Williams, Central; Marly Fitzpatrick, Dakota Rawiszer, Abby Rector, Hixson; Hillary English, Madison Hayes, Emma Mitchell, Raine Phillips, East Hamilton.
* 5-A: Catheryn Graham, Richard Hardy; Gianna Fugh, Arts & Sciences; Olivia Cagle, Alex Mabry, South Pittsburg; Cassie Coppinger, Sydney Perkins, Whitwell; Scarlett Hamrick, Caitlin Pruitt, Lookout Valley; Jenna Carpenter, Sidney Minter, Jessica Ogden, Marion County; Abbey Burton, Jayda Perry, Madysun Steele, Morgan Weatherford, Sale Creek.
* DII East 2-A: Katie Patrick, Silverdale Baptist Academy; Maggie Long, Autumn Patrick, Grace Academy; Mackenzie Johnson, Ally Mildenberger, Claire Vander Werf, Notre Dame; Brieanna Hemphill, A.J. Johnson, Rachel Kay, Chattanooga Christian; Meredith Balthrop, Julia Headrick, Mackenzie Mann, Maddie Millwood, Boyd-Buchanan. Coach of the Year: Nancy Culver, Boyd-Buchanan.