Coaches talk about wanting to see consistent performances from their teams, so Signal Mountain volleyball's Bailee Barrett can't complain about not seeing it in Thursday's Class AA state sectional at Signal Mountain.
The Lady Eagles methodically disposed of Hixson 3-0 to advance to next week's state tournament, winning the sets by scores of 25-13, 25-15 and 25-14.
This marks Signal Mountain's fifth consecutive trip to the state tournament, which will be held in Murfreesboro next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The Lady Eagles, who finished second last year and when the current seniors were freshmen, are seeking their fourth berth in a championship match and their second title.
Hixson had 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second set and a 1-0 lead in the third. Other than that, the Lady Wildcats were playing chase the rest of the time.
Signal Mountain's first double-digit lead was 20-10 in the first set, the same in the second set, and 23-13 in the third.
"I'd have to look back to see, but I know we've had that a couple of times where we literally beat a team by the same scores," Barrett said. "Always we want to be consistent. It's not about what the other team is doing. When we're in the system, that's when it happens. Our passing was great tonight. We may have been off in one or two spots in each set. That made a difference. When we pass the ball well to the setter and have three people to go to to get a kill from, that's huge."
Maia Rackel showed off her impressive vertical leap several times throughout the match and topped Signal Mountain with 17 kills. She got support from Olivia Powers with eight kills and Cora Hansen with seven, plus setter Kate Barry dropped six in on the Lady Wildcats, primarily off fake sets.
"She's just very aware of where the other team is," Barrett said of Barry, who also had 38 assists and 10 digs. "She just has good instincts. She knows when people are where they're not supposed to be, or when they're back on their heels. That's when she'll throw a ball over. She probably has our highest hitting percentage."
"It was pretty lackluster," said Hixson coach Janet Tate, who announced at the beginning of the season she would be resigning her position at the end of it. "I thought they were ready. They talked like they were ready. But actions speak louder than words."
Rackel's first kill landed for the sixth point in the first set, and she had more than a few emphatic ones throughout the match.
"I get it," Tate said. "That can be overwhelming to a kid. That's all right. I'm proud my girls made it this far. Four years in a row (in a sectional) ain't bad."
Other leaders for the Lady Eagles were Hansen with six blocks and Rackel and Mackenzie Lewis with 11 digs apiece.
Dakota Rawiszer was the kills leader for Hixson (18-19) with five, and she also led with six assists. Abby Rector led with 13 digs.
» East Hamilton 3, Upperman 0: At East Hamilton, the Lady Hurricanes also advanced to the Class AA state tournament. Set scores were 25-19, 25-18, 25-21.
They were led by Madison Hayes with 18 kills and five aces. Hillary English was the leader in assists (30) and digs (10). McKenna Hayes led with three blocks.
» Cleveland 3, Blackman 0: At Cleveland, the Lady Raiders earned a return trip to state after making their first appearance last year. Set scores were 25-17, 25-20, 25-20.
Emma Flowers paced the hitting with 23 kills and equaled Hannah Longley with 15 digs. Anna Renshaw had 31 assists, and Nicole Glaser contributed three aces.
» Sale Creek 3, Gordonsville 0: At Sale Creek, the Lady Panthers took another step to becoming a fixture at the Class A state tournament with another appearance under Coach Debbie Hill. The set scores were 30-28, 25-20, 25-9.
Leaders for the Lady Panthers were Abbey Burton with 19 kills, Gracie Janow with seven blocks, Morgan Weatherford with 39 digs and Jayda Perry with 45 assists.
» Heritage 3, Jefferson 1: At Heritage, the Generals won their opening-round match in the GHSA Class AAAA state tournament by set scores of 25-21, 25-20, 20-25, 25-17.
Macy Harris led in kills with 11 and matched Ashley Clinton's three aces. Clinton had 31 assists and three blocks, and Kali Brown's all-around performance included seven kills, two blocks and 18 digs.
» Brentwood Academy 3, GPS 0: At Brentwood Academy, the Bruisers' season came to an end in a Division II-AA state quarterfinal. Set scores were 25-16, 25-12, 27-25.
Reagan Long's nine kills paced GPS, and Preslee Brooksbank was the digs leader with 19. Emma Moore totaled 28 assists.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.