Throughout the 2019 regular season, the Central High School volleyball team had a tendency to not surrender many sets, especially at home. Hosting the District 8-AAA tournament semifinals and final on Thursday, October 10, the Lady Raiders continued this trend into the postseason.
The team won 3-0 against both Franklin County and Lincoln County to take the tournament championship.
"I think we played probably our best two matches of the year," Coach Andrew Taylor said. "Just collectively as a group, everybody did their job, we passed well, we set well, we ran some really nice offense. Our hitters were solid for us tonight."
Both matches saw a challenge emerge in the respective third sets. Against Franklin County, the Lady Raiders were forced to push it past 25 points to preserve the sweep.
In the third set against Lincoln County, CHS battled back late from an early deficit to win by four.
"Hopefully we're gonna take this momentum to the region. Of course, the region means we go to Murfreesboro, we all know what that means," Taylor said. "We've got a team this year I think that's gonna be competitive. They won a lot of close matches this year. We talked about this week at practice just finding a way and today, they found a way."
First up was a semifinal match against Franklin County. The Lady Raiders won the first two sets with relative ease by scores of 25-13 and 25-7, respectively.
The Rebelettes flipped the switch in the third and took off for their first lead of the evening. Down 22-24 to Franklin County, CHS tied it off two straight points from Keelie Hillis and Lexi Bryan to force a win-by-two situation. The team held on to win the match 28-26.
The girls recorded 14 aces, with three each from Bryan and Amanda Mukai. Mukai also took the top spot in assists with 16 out of 35. Kiya Ferrell led the team in kills with 11 out of 40. Sarah West brought in seven digs out of 21.
Up next was Lincoln County, who defeated Columbia in the other semifinal match prior to the tournament final. The Lady Raiders held their own through the first two sets against the Lady Falcons, winning 25-15 and 25-19, respectively.
Up 2-0 and one set away from a tournament title, the Lady Raiders were forced to deal with a resilient Lincoln County. The Lady Falcons went up early for their first lead of the match and at one point led 12-6. CHS spent much of the set closing the gap but was unable to retake control until near the end.
Tied at 20-20, Ferrell hit a kill to put the Lady Raiders back ahead for the first time since the beginning of the set. CHS proceeded to go 4-1 over the next five points to win the set 25-21 and take the match and the tournament.
"I wasn't really thinking about it, I just knew if she set me I needed to get the ball down and make sure it went in," Ferrell said. "That was what we were struggling with, just hitting everything out."
The girls finished with five aces, led by Mukai with two. Mukai once again led in assists with 25 out of 41. The team recorded 43 kills, with 11 each from Ferrell and Keri Munn. In the digs category, both Ferrell and West led the way with nine each.
Following the match, Ferrell, Bryan and Keri Munn were named to the District 8-AAA All-District team. Hillis was named the District 8-AAA MVP.