It wasn’t the upset the Lady Pioneers wanted, but there were signs of hope.
Facing the District 6-AAA juggernaut Cookeville, the Warren County High School volleyball team acquitted itself well. The Lady Pioneers fell 25-12, 25-19 and 25-23 in a match that impressed first-year coach Kelly Clayborne.
“We didn’t pull the upset, but I was pleased with how the girls played in the second and third set,” said Clayborne. “Cookeville is a very experienced team. I thought the way my girls were able to play with them showed our potential. The third set we played them point for point.”
Last year’s state qualifiers showed their skill in dominating the first set. After that, Cookeville had a tough match on its hands.
“Warren County is super scrappy. They were getting everything back up,” said Cookeville coach Jami Cherry, whose team is undefeated in district play this season.
Samantha Jennings made sure Cookeville knew the second set would not go the same as the first early.
Already ahead 2-1, the Lady Cavaliers set up for a quick attack to try to pound the Lady Pioneer defense. Jennings rose to meet Cookeville at the net, turning back the shot with an emphatic block, one that drew a huge ovation from the Warren County side.
Danika Reno helped keep the momentum with the home team. The sophomore started a mini spurt with an ace, then followed with a big spike through two Cookeville players later to make it 19-15.
Reno closed the gap to 21-19 late in the second set with another ace, but Cookeville rolled off the last four points to close out.
Warren County twice built four-point leads early in the third set. Jennings highlighted the solid start with another block, while senior Beth Vaughn had a massive spike to give her team a jolt.
Marli McBride also shook the visitors. The back-row defensive specialist saved a point when she got in front of blistered ball over the net, stunning the Lady Cavaliers.
Cookeville ultimately prevailed, but not before Warren County showed it could play with the potential district champs.
“I saw some really good things from the girls. We are going to continue to work and get better each and every game,” said Clayborne.
The Lady Pioneers will return to their home court Tuesday, Sept. 10 for a match with Soddy Daisy. Action is set to start at 5:30 p.m.