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Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Notre Dame senior McKenna Brown leads the area in kills this season for a 28-win team, who won 16 straight at one point this season.

Notre Dame senior McKenna Brown has taken the volleyball court by storm posting superstar numbers in a season she hopes brings a trip to the Final Four of the Division II-A state volleyball tournament.

Opposing defenses have had few answers for Brown, who has delivered an area-leading 490 kills (5.2 per set) in 32 matches.

"We need two more wins to get to the Final Four. I am really excited and proud of our team," said Brown, whose Lady Fighting Irish (28-4) will host Middle Tennessee Christian (18-5) in the first round of the state tournament at 6:30 Tuesday evening in a win or go home match.

"We have come a long way and we have worked really hard to put ourselves where we are right now," said Brown. "This season we have adapted and had girls step up in different positions all around the court. We all have pushed each other to keep going and have been playing some really good volleyball."

Mary Fillauer has led the area in assists this season while Riley McCormick and Maggie Fillauer have stepped up their defense after standout libero Gwen Jimenez suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this season. Lindsay Burns, Emmeline Crisp, Beth Voges and Regan Wolf are all capable of supplying the attack with fuel when teams try to double Brown, who can still hit multiple blockers as well with her forceful hits.

In a region semifinal sweep at home over Concord Christian – which was the program's 20th straight victory — Brown provided one of the most dominant performances her coach has seen with 25 kills and one error on 41 swings. Brown's kill percentage in the match was a whopping 61%.

"McKenna is one of the top 10 most prolific scorers I have coached or coached against in my career," said Lady Irish coach Dan Clotfelter, who has coached over 600 high school matches. "What makes her so incredible is she makes fewer errors than any hitter I have ever seen. She puts up video game numbers almost every time out."

The Lady Irish will look to keep feeding off Brown's energy as they chase after the program's second ever state championship. The last came in 2006.

Notre Dame has taken down fellow district champions in East Hamilton and Signal Mountain while the Lady Irish did not lose a district matchup for the second straight season. They also beat North Georgia power LaFayette (35-7) and Heritage (28-6) to win the Volley at the Creek tournament.

Focused on the task at hand, Brown and company hope to keep making memories.

"I really was pushing myself to be at the top in the city in kills and I am happy I hit that mark," Brown said. "We have had a really great season and I couldn't have done what I have without my teammates. Everyone is excited and ready. We want to keep playing as long as we can."

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Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Notre Dame's McKenna Brown (1) is a threat for 20 kills any game during her senior season. The Lady Fighting Irish have won 28 games this season and will play in the opening round of the state tournament tonight at home.

 

GOLF

The Baylor School golf program jumped out to a strong start at Monday's TSSAA Division II-AA state golf championship at the WillowBrook Golf Course.

The Red Raiders hold an eight stroke lead going into the final 18 holes of play Tuesday after shooting an impressive foursome score of 294. Meanwhile, the Lady Red Raiders are just two strokes behind first place Lipscomb in the girls' championship.

Junior Sheldon McKnight shot an even round of 72 and is tied for fourth, two strokes behind Father Ryan's Riley Grindstaff for the lead. McKnight had five birdies and was followed by teammates Brett Cooper (+1, T-6th), David Schneider-Jerez (+2, T-9th) and Haden Maxwell (+3, T-12th). Schneider-Jerez led the field with 16 pars.

McCallie and Ensworth are tied for third at 303. The Blue Tornado were led by Carter Sayman (+1), Bennett McNabb (+2), Jack Martin (+5) and Clarence Chapman (+7).

The Lady Red Raiders duo of Ellie Rastvortseva (+4) and Kyndall Shamblin (+7) combined for a stroke total of 155. Baylor's Stephanie Xian (+9) had three birdies on the first of two 18-hole rounds.

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Notre Dame senior McKenna Brown leads the area in kills this season for a 28-win team, who won 16 straight at one point this season.
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