Walker Valley put up an impressive fight in the gold bracket final of the 34th annual Choo Choo Classic volleyball tournament Saturday before losing the best-of-three match to Hebron Christian, an Atlanta-area program led by a pair of 6-foot-2 players who have committed to Division I basketball programs.
The towering duo of Carly Heidger, whose nonbinding pledge is to Samford, and Malia Fisher (Rice) helped the Lady Lions hold off the resilient Lady Mustangs to win 25-19, 16-25, 15-6 in a match played at Red Bank High School.
Walker Valley's Melody McRee placed her serves down the left sideline and had a kill to help her team to a 16-13 lead to start the title contest, but Fisher had six of match-high 13 kills in the set to lead Hebron's rally for a 1-0 lead.
Lady Mustangs senior Jia Weathersby responded with her own power to even the score, contributing six kills and two blocks in the second set, when teammate Cayce Davis led an 8-0 run in which she had a pair of aces to build a 13-2 lead. McRee surprised the Lady Lions with tips over their heads that were out of reach for defenders on the back row.
"We struggled to start this tournament, but we beat Anderson County, who was the No. 2 seed, to stay alive," Walker Valley coach Aubrey Reagan said. "From there the hustle, effort and energy was there from our girls. They were having a good time and playing really scrappy."
Hebron had four aces and Heidger's three consecutive kills sealed the third set and the match.
Weathersby finished with 10 kills and four blocks for Walker Valley.
"Jia has really worked hard and come a long way since her freshman year," Reagan said. "She is super competitive and hard to stop when she gets fired up. We have been working hard on getting her the ball a little bit more. This was a big week for her, and we hope to see her continue hitting the ball like she has."
* Red Bank's Shante Smith landed 13 of her team-high 43 kills in the Choo Choo Classic in a three-set victory over Ooltewah in silver bracket pool play Friday. Ashley Ware totaled 25 kills and 14 blocks in the Lady Lions' seven weekend matches, and Zoe Helms had 26 assists against Ooltewah.
The Lady Lions, who went 2-5 overall at the tournament and lost a three-set semifinal to East Hamilton, received 36 kills and 30 digs from Bailee Phillips, while Arreyanna Glass had 10 blocks.
* Chattanooga Christian School's trio of Emily Day, Lauren Kay and Avery Ray served up 10 aces in a two-set victory over Boyd Buchanan on Friday. Day had 18 assists and five kills, and AJ Johnson had eight kills.
* Boyd Buchanan's Calla Brady was sharp defensively, accumulating 49 digs in three matches as her team, after Friday's loss to CCS, dropped a pair of matches Saturday in Knoxville at Concord Christian — one to the host and another to West. The Lady Buccaneers (2-7) received 18 aces from Cali Sandhoff and nine kills from Macy Balthrop.
* GPS improved to 7-0 this season with wins against Oak Ridge, 4-0, Science Hill, 5-1, and Knoxville West, 4-0, over the weekend at the Bearden Invitational.
Bruisers freshman Nyla Blue scored two goals and Gardner Rustand had two assists against Oak Ridge on Friday, sophomore Kennedy Ball had a pair of goals and assists in Saturday's win against Science Hill, and Sasha Carbone scored twice and Ball had a goal and two assists against West on Sunday.
Sydney Morris, Hayden Wise and goalkeeper Kaedra Thorstenson also played well during the weekend event for GPS, which has outscored its opponents 28-2 this season.
* Baylor's Zoe Mize helped set up a goal by Ashley Norman on a free kick, and Mize also scored off a corner kick in Saturday's 3-2 loss at Bearden. The Lady Red Raiders (1-2) bounced back after a 4-1 loss to Maryville to begin their weekend in Knoxville. Jamie Butt, Emily Carico, Jada Cooper, Sophia Mize, Addison Yelton and Baker Young had solid performances for coach Curtis Blair's team.
* Calhoun's Felipe Barrios crossed the finish line with a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) time of 16 minutes, 48.64 seconds to take first place in the Run at the Rock hosted by Woodland High School in Cartersville on Saturday morning. Heritage's Allison Craft (21:11) was ninth out of 153 runners in the girls' race, while Gavin Chandler (17:44) was the first Heritage boy across the line, finishing 17th out of 176 runners.
* McCallie's scoring foursome edged Signal Mountain, 171-172, Thursday at the Lookout Mountain Club. Jack Martin (2-over-par 41), Bennett McNabb (42) and Carter Sayman (43) led the Blue Tornado, and Franklin Beverly and Raulston Welch each shot a 45 for the winners in the match that went to a tiebreaking 10th hole.
The Eagles' Peyton Ogle matched Martin for the best score, and Beck Lewis (42), Carson Johnson (43) and Benjamin Burns (46) also scored for Signal Mountain.
The same day, the Lady Eagles defeated GPS 79-83 at Moccasin Bend as Claudia Gardner shot a 2-over 38 and Caroline Burns added a 41 to get past Ava Scotchie (40) and Olivia Scotchie (43).