The Lady Pioneer high school volleyball team played at a high level against Shelbyville Tuesday night to earn the right to play in the TSSAA Region 3, District 6 Tournament. Warren County won on the road in five sets, 3-2.
Shelbyville beat Warren County in both regular season matches, but Warren County felt as though they were the better team. Going to Shelbyville as a slight underdog did not bother the Lady Pioneers who have been playing their best volleyball at the end of their season. Shelbyville won the first set, 25-22, and Warren County bounced right back for a 25-17 victory in the second set.
The match appeared to be in jeopardy for the Lady Pioneers as they lost the third set 25-21, and fell behind 2-1 in the match. Shelbyville had an outstanding player, junior Alyssa McBay who could hit the ball well all over the court. Shelbyville played with a lot of momentum when McBay was touching the ball. The fourth set was a strong one for Warren County as they pounded out a 25-14 victory to tie the match 2-2.
The fifth set in the match was limited to 15-points. Warren County fell behind 0-3, but the Lady Pioneers showed the resiliency that they have exhibited recently to tie the match at 3-3. Once the Lady Pioneers took a 4-3 lead, they never looked back and won the set 15-8 to win the match 3-2. It was a do-or-die match, and there was visible disappointment on Shelbyville’s team afterwards. The Warren County girls were jubilant to keep their season alive.
Warren County scored a lot of points when Mia Hobbs was serving and Ally Beneke was on the net. The Lady Pioneers would go on strong runs scoring several points in-a-row with Hobbs serving. Mea Starkey was another power server for the Lady Pioneers, and Starkey was also a strong hitter on the front line.
The major force at the net for Warren County was Ally Beneke who played brilliantly. Beneke hit spikes straight down, blocked spikes, and made excellent decisions about when to dink and pass the ball deep into Shelbyville’s court. Beneke played as mistake-free a match as possible, making only one or two mistakes. Jessica Bell was also very strong at the net, knocking a few balls straight down for kills. Mia Hobbs was a force at every position on the court. It was a meaningful team win for the Lady Pioneers who had struggled earlier in the season against district opponents
After the match, head coach Erin Blalock stated, “We were determined to win! That was the mindset tonight with these girls… they wanted to win and keep playing! I’m so proud of how they kept each other in the game and never gave up on themselves or each other. “
Blalock continued, “Ally (Beneke) was huge on the net tonight and (Mia) Hobbs made some great heads up plays up there! Jessie (Young) passed up everything that came her way. (Kennedi) Pegg was once again filling in for Bella (Cantrell), and has really grown comfortable in the past few weeks. Allyson (Blalock) and Emily (Davis) were filling in tonight for the first time on varsity squad, and they did a good job staying present on the net. Being without Bella and Marli (McBride) leaves big voids to fill in the court, but the girls made the adjustments and handled the changes well.”
The Lady Pioneers were in Franklin County last night against Coffee County in the first round of the district tournament. The Southern Standard was going to print as the match was in progress. Please follow Southern Standard on Facebook and Twitter for results, and there will be in-depth coverage of the match in Sunday’s newspaper.