By JESSE SMITHEY
The TSSAA Class AA state volleyball championship on Friday will be the moment that Anderson County coach Jayme Smith has been wanting for her program for more than a decade.
Since she took over at her alma mater 11 years ago, Smith and her staff have pushed and worked on their vision to get the Lady Mavs back to state title contenders.
Now, it’s here.
Some 27 years after playing on the first Anderson County team to reach a state tournament in 1993, Smith will coach the Lady Mavericks in the Class AA championship Friday in Murfreesboro and try to get the program its first state title since 1999.
Anderson County (35-8) will take on defending state-champion Nolensville (37-4) at 1 p.m. Central time at Siegel High School. It’s the first state finals appearance for the Lady Mavericks since 2007, the last of their four runner-up finishes (2000, 2001, 2005, 2007). AC didn’t make it to state at all from 2009-2018.
“It started a long time ago with the older players. We’ve had some great players come through. These girls are just picking the torch back up. They’re delivering on promises they made over the years to get back to where they wanted to be, too,” said Smith. “They’ve heard the stories. They wanted to be a part of that.
“It all goes back to the girls. They’ve done an amazing job.”
Anderson County will be familiar with Nolensville, as Nolensville defeated AC in three sets early Thursday afternoon, sending the Lady Mavericks into a must-win situation Thursday night against Murfreesboro Central.
That match against Nolensville went quickly, as AC fell 25-13, 25-18, 25-15.
“I think we were a little bit maybe back on our heels, but jacked (to play) at the same time. We missed, like, five serves in one game. You just can’t make errors against a good team. And (Nolensville) is a very disciplined team when it comes to their skills and fundamentals,” Smith said. “We just made more errors than they did. I think that hurt us early on. When we play, we are equal or better than any team. But we have to eliminate our errors and force other teams to make them instead.”
Despite an error-filled opener Thursday, Anderson County showed great resolve in the night cap to secure its berth in the season finale. After opening with a 25-17 win in Set 1 against Murfreesboro Central, the Lady Mavs endured and survived a marathon 32-30 set to go up, 2-0.
Smith didn’t notice any fatigue after that stanza — only grit and focus. They won the third set, 25-17, to beat Murfreesboro Central (31-12) for a second time this week.
“They just battled. They just played through adversity. They never quit. I don’t know what to make of them. They’re crazy right now,” Smith said of her team.
“In the third set, that win (in the second set) jolted them and they came out to play. That was just our second match of the day. And the team we were playing, that was their third. I do think that played into their legs. But with our girls, that (32-30 win in the second set) just motivated them for some crazy reason.”
What a SET by BOTH Schools! Lady Mavs win 32-30 as @MrFreemanAC @maverick5108 and @TimTparrott approve! Lady Mavs lead 2-0. One more win to play in tomorrow’s State Championship! @5StarPreps #GoMavs pic.twitter.com/5LQhsyv7Bt
— Ben Downs (@BenDownsACMAVS) October 23, 2020