One might think the road to a third straight trip to the state tourney would face some speed bumps, considering Christ Presbyterian Academy has a new coach and just one senior on its volleyball team.
Not so fast. The Lions showed they are going to be a tough test for anyone in Class A/AA after a hard-fought four-set victory at David Lipscomb on Tuesday afternoon.
CPA, which made its first trip to state two years ago, then returned to Murfreesboro last year, has designs on another trip down I-24 next month.
CPA lost three game-points and eventually dropped the opener, then stormed back and gradually wore down Lipscomb in a 25-27, 25-23, 25-20, 25-19 victory in one-hour, 45 minutes.
“We started slow, then we started playing better and better,” first-year coach Rachel Holloway, a two-time All-American setter at Nebraska, said. “We got control of more balls, played better defense and eventually wore them down.”
Led by the hitting of 5-foot-10 sophomore Katherine Grace (K.G.) Woodall, CPA took control of the match late in the second set. Trailing 22-19, the Lions closed the game out with a 6-1 flurry.
Sophomore Elle Eberle capped the third game with a spike for a two games to one lead.
“We’re really starting to bond as a team,” Woodall, who had six spikes, as well as some strong serving (one ace), said. “For a team with a new coach and just one senior (Heather Benton), we are competing very well. If we keep playing this way, we have a great chance to get back to state.”
Lipscomb, the 2004 state champion, is also trying to get back to state.
The Mustangs were again led by the all-out hustle and determined play by standout senior Mackenzie Lehmer who had seven spikes, five blocks and served well.
“We just did not step up and play the way we needed to,” Lehmer, who is also an outstanding softball player, said. “To me, it’s all mental. We’ve got to come ready to play.”
Looking at the fact the district tournament will be hosted by Lipscomb beginning Oct. 12, she said, “Yes, it will be good to be playing at home. We need to re-focus, and if we do, we’ll reach our goal of getting to state.”
Lehmer likely will attend either Lipscomb or UT next year.
“Mackenzie plays hard and with so much heart,” coach Kerry Risley said. “I wish I had a whole team like her. CPA played well, they got to a lot of tough balls and kept them in play and they play excellent defense.”
The district race appears to be a three-team battle between CPA, Lipscomb and Hume-Fogg. Two of those teams likely will qualify for region.
• CPA lands hoop district tourney: Athletic Director Mike Ellson announced that Christ Presbyterian Academy will hos the District 10-AA basketball tournament Feb. 18 and 21-22.