When coach Franklin Fisher started planning the Lady Pioneer playday, he envisioned his Lady Pioneer team hoisting the championship trophy. It was a never a given though, especially with five tough challengers traveling to McMinnville for the all-day event at Charlie Dalton Gym.
The Lady Pioneers had to win seven matches, including the finals against a team its most familiar with, to take home the playday championship and improve their record to 27-10 this season.
Warren County won all of its five pool-play games during the day, giving it the No. 1 seed entering the four-team tournament.
The Lady Pioneers dispatched Tullahoma in the semifinals, setting up a match against Chattanooga School of Arts and Sciences.
Warren County spent all summer with CSAS, coached by former Warren County athlete Brandon Lowry. When the teams took the court in the finals, it was all smiles on both sides as the teams bonded during summer camp.
The Lady Pioneers would have the biggest smiles when the finals ended though. Warren County won the final match 25-18 and 25-21 to get a large trophy for the school’s trophy case.
Coach Fisher saw his team play hard throughout the day, even after it was taken the distance early on multiple occasions.
“Our first three matches went to three sets, but we never showed any signs of giving up,” said Fisher. “The tournament got back to the level it was originally intended when we started doing it. There was very little difference between the top five teams.”
Warren County started out its day with a District 6-AAA team. Though the game didn’t count toward district records, the Lady Pioneers still took plenty of satisfaction away from beating the Lady Raiders. Warren County won the first set 25-19, but lost the second 25-22. The Lady Pioneers came back to win the third game 15-7.
Tullahoma was next up for the Lady Pioneers. Warren County won big in the first game 25-11, but fell in the second 25-16. It took extra points to determine the winner, but the Lady Pioneers prevailed 19-17 to go 2-0.
In a championship preview, the Lady Pioneers defeated CSAS for their third victory of the day. Warren County lost the first game 25-23, but came back to win the next two games 25-13 and 15-8.
The Lady Pioneers finally broke their string of needing three sets to win when the team defeated Grundy County 25-18 and 25-21. Warrren County finished up pool play by defeating Franklin County 25-8 and 25-18.
The tournament featured the top four teams from pool play and Warren County entered as the No. 1 seed. Tullahoma was Warren County’s opponent and the Lady Pioneers won two hard-fought sets 25-14 and 25-22.
Warren County thought it may face Coffee County for the third time in three days, but CSAS won in other semifinal game to set up a match between the two teams who were cheering for each other all day.
In the end, it was the powerful net play of Megan Dishman and Caroline McKinley, along with the serving from seniors Maggie Schaper and Holly Morgan, which led the Lady Pioneers to a tournament championship.
McKinley racked up 50 kills, 16 blocks, 13 assists and six aces throughout the day for Warren County. Dishman added 15 kills and 13 blocks. Schaper had 31 kills and tied for the team high in aces with Holly Morgan at nine.
Blair Fisher topped the 300-assist mark for the season with 84 helpers during Saturday’s seven matches. Many of those passes went to Kaitlin Lawrence as the junior finished with 24 kills.
The Lady Pioneers hoped to extend their season-high nine-game winning streak last night when the team played host to Cumberland County at Charlie Dalton Gym.
The match, which served as senior night for Schaper, Morgan and Chelsea Cope, wasn’t completed at press time.