Editor's note: In Wednesday's prep roundup, the Times Free Press incorrectly reported the TSSAA volleyball state tournament's finals round is double elimination. The championship final is a winner-take-all format, despite the state tournament being double elimination to that point.
The volleyball programs at both Baylor and Notre Dame have a lot to be proud of after runner-up finishes in the TSSAA state tournament Thursday at Middle Tennessee Christian School in Murfreesboro.
Baylor's Lady Red Raiders, who lost 25-18, 25-12, 25-18 to Briarcrest Christian in the Division II-AA title match, made their seventh finals appearance in the past decade, this time completing a season that wasn't promised after the team had to quarantine early and miss a handful of matches due to COVID-19.
A senior class of six led by Elaine Redman, Tess Margio, Holland Moss and Emma Gray helped the program to a 120-31 mark over the past four years, reaching three state finals and winning a title in 2017.
"Our seniors have been phenomenal," Baylor coach Sarah Lail said. "They have been such great leaders on and off the court and have kept our great tradition alive. Our entire volleyball program was here today, and they have a great group to look up to and follow."
For Notre Dame's Lady Fighting Irish, a 32-5 campaign was the program's most memorable since winning the Class A-AA title with a 45-win season in 2006. They lost this year's DII-A final in four sets to six-time champion Goodpasture, which won 25-14, 18-25, 25-20, 28-26.
Notre Dame's senior class of eight helped contribute 120 wins over four years, and all were members of the National Honor Society and had a combined GPA of 4.06 on a 4.0 scale.
"I told them before the match, it doesn't matter what happens today. There is no way your parents, classmates, teammates or coaches could be any prouder of you," Notre Dame coach Dan Clotfelter said.
"The best thing about coaching is having the best seat in the house to watch them play. This was a group who got better every step of the way, and that's all you can ask. The worst part is I don't get to watch them play anymore. It's been an honor to see them grow. They are great people in addition to being great volleyball players."
McKenna Brown had 20 kills for the Lady Irish, who also had strong showings from Regan Wolf (10 kils), Riley McCormick (18 digs), Mary Fillauer (36 assists, three aces) and Maggie Fillauer (13 digs, two aces).
Despite being down two players because of injury and facing a 16-8 deficit in the fourth set, Notre Dame fought back to tie it at 26 with a big hit from Brown, who had 583 kills this season.
"The workload McKenna handled and the way she produced all season, she is just a really special player," Clotfelter said. "I am proud of all of our girls, though. They went out there and had some serious adversity in a state championship match and still found a way to come within a whisker of getting it done. This group came in here with me four years ago and really cemented their legacy."
Baylor (12-5) was led in its championship match by future Division I talent Redman, who has committed to Toledo and had nine kills, nine assists and 10 digs. Margio had five kills and Gray added 13 digs.
"This program has been blessed with numerous young ladies who have helped establish the culture of excellence and tradition in the classroom and on the court," Lail said. "We are all grateful to have had a season. I still remember the look on their faces after they got back from quarantine to their first practice. I had never seen such joy on players' faces. I knew they were back and ready."
* East Hamilton's fourth straight state tournament appearance in Class AA came to an end against Murfreesboro Central, which won 25-17, 25-1, 25-17 in an elimination bracket quarterfinal Thursday at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro.
* Sale Creek was impressive in the Class A tournament Thursday at Stewarts Creek High School with elimination bracket wins over Meigs County, 25-12, 25-13, 25-16, and Watertown, 25-22, 26-24, 21-25, 15-25, 25-13. Coach Erin Briner's Lady Panthers (24-6) fell in the bracket final in five sets to Loretto, which won 25-27, 25-21, 25-12, 25-27, 16-14.
Apalachee 2-6, Calhoun 1-3: The Lady Yellow Jackets ended their season 21-10 as the visitors won a pair of tight games in the second round of the GHSA playoffs. Apalachee (26-6) scored two runs in the sixth inning of game one on RBI hits from Morgan Reynolds and Destiny Sexton and used Sam Woody's three-run homer in the ninth inning of game two to complete the sweep. Reynolds had two hits in game one and two more with three RBIs in game two to lead Apalachee, while Grace Crocker drove in a pair of runs and Espee Reyes had two hits for Calhoun.
Heritage 0-6, Jefferson 2-0: The Generals (26-6) earned a split to start the second-round series with four runs over the first three innings of game two. Carmen Gayler had an RBI triple to start the scoring in the first, with Lexi Duckett adding a run-scoring single in the second, and Madeline Stone, Bailey Davis and Sarah Haynes producing RBIs in a three-run third for a 4-0 lead. Rachel Gibson, who allowed two hits and two earned runs while striking out 10 in the opener, went three innings to start game two and allowed a hit and struck out five to earn the win, while Kelsey Anderson earned a four-inning, two-hit save.
Camoreena Hart was the winner in game one with a seven-inning, four-hit shutout. Duckett had two of Heritage's hits in the losing effort. Game three is at 2 p.m. Friday at Heritage.
Heard County 9-8, Dade County 1-1: The Lady Wolverines (19-5-1) were swept in Trenton, ending their season.
Chattooga 5-5, Bremen 4-17: The Lady Indians (17-5) won game one as Ciara Wyatt pitched all 11 innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs while striking out 11. Gracelyn Veitch won it with a two-run homer in the 11th, while Katie Williams was 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored and Emma Howard and Ally Croy added RBIs.
Bremen (22-9) forced a third game as Alyvis Matthews was 3-for-3 with three runs scored, Zoe Cook had two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored and Ella Smith drove in two runs. Howard had two hits and drove in two runs, Williams had two hits and Ella Hurley drove in two for Chattooga. The deciding matchup is at 4 p.m. Friday at Bremen.
Bradley Central 49, Soddy-Daisy 14: After a back-and-forth first quarter in which the teams combined for five touchdowns, the Bears pulled away with four unanswered scores to earn a nonregion home win.
Their defense, led by linebacker Camden Creighton's 12 tackles, shut down the Trojans, not allowing a score after the first quarter. Bradley totaled 13 tackles for loss, led by C.J. Hardy's three, and five sacks and outgained the Trojans 492-200 in total offense.
Javon Burke ran for 229 yards and three touchdowns — covering 33, 32 and 37 yards — to help lead the Bears to a 367-35 advantage in rushing yards. Aidan McClary was 8-of-10 passing for 125 yards and a touchdown to Kannon Hall, who had six catches for 106 yards.
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