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Tribe edges rival 'Toppers in five-set thriller

Jeff Birchfield • Sep 19, 2018 at 12:44 AM

KINGSPORT — If Tuesday night was any indication, the upcoming District 1-AAA volleyball tournament could be a dandy.

Dobyns-Bennett rallied to win a fourth set and then edged Science Hill in a deciding fifth for a 24-26, 25-14, 23-25, 25-22, 15-12 win at the Buck Van Huss Dome.

The Lady Indians (22-1), who had already wrapped up the Big 6 Conference title, trailed 7-2 early in the fourth set before coming back. They jumped out to an 11-6 advantage in the fifth, but the Lady Hilltoppers (16-9) rallied to trail by just one point before D-B finally put them away.

“We were able to finish at the end,” Tribe coach Megan Devine said. “It wasn’t as easy as we wanted it to be, but I think Science Hill played really well. They served us aggressive, so it kept us out of system — but we were able to find all our people in the front row and follow our game plan.”

Courtney Whitson led the way in the front with 21 kills, including three straight at a crucial point in the fifth. Hannah Watson had 13 kills and four blocks, and Caroline Cable had a dozen kills. Staley Humphries posted an all-around effort with 13 kills, 21 digs and four aces.

“They had a lot of energy coming into our gym and I told our players before that fifth set it was our job to do our roles,” Whitson said. “We had to pull together and have the energy ourselves. We talked about it was the second part of the season and everybody is playing their best now. You have to rise to that level, even better than what we’ve done before.”

GOING THE DISTANCE

It was the second straight five-set match for both teams. D-B beat Daniel Boone last Thursday night to clinch the league title and Science Hill outlasted Sullivan Central on Monday night.

The Lady ’Toppers pulled out both the first and third sets after trailing 22-20 then lost the fourth after leading by the same score. Claire Thomas had nine kills to lead Science Hill offensively, with Ella Gay recording eight kills and six blocks and Riley Layton seven kills and eight blocks.

Other leaders for Science Hill were Alyssa Neal with 21 assists, Chloe Smith with 16 assists and Jesse Franks with four kills and 14 assists. Meghan Carroll was the defensive leader with 24 digs, and McKenna Crosby and Attie Forbes had five and four kills, respectively.

“I told the girls this game we didn’t finish, but I couldn’t have been prouder of the way they answered back,” Science Hill coach Laura Cook said. “We had Attie go down, who has had all the kills. That happened and we made a quick switch in the middle of the game, but they answered the call. I feel like right now we’re pulling together, and that’s what you need in the end.”

BIG NUMBERS FOR D-B

Other leaders for D-B included Rylee Waye with 55 assists, 15 digs, five kills and two aces. Carly Shell had 21 digs and Chloe Harless turned in a 20-dig, two-ace performances. Zoie Larkins, who had five kills, four aces and 25 digs, recorded back-to-back aces in the deciding set, helping propel the Lady Indians to a 4-0 lead.

“It was crucial,” Devine said. “Zoie has been one of our best servers all season. Those two aces, those first two points, were awesome and we want to hold our serve. We know as D-B we’re going to get everyone’s best game. We pulled it out in the end and that took a lot of heart. We’re all about family here and all 13 of them did a great job to get us this win.”

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