BY JESSE SMITHEY
Here is all you need to know about how local teams fared Wednesday in the 2022 TSSAA State Volleyball Championships, including which teams are still alive and what they need to do to keep advancing.
Catholic’s pattern of comebacks was bound to reach its end at some point.
The Lady Irish dropped the first two sets in Wednesday’s semifinal against Baylor only to fight back and fall in five sets, seeing their state-title defense come to an end at Middle Tennessee Christian School in Murfreesboro.
Catholic lost its opener Tuesday to Briarcrest in four sets, dropping the first set to begin its trend of climbing out of holes. And despite trailing in the first two sets Tuesday night, it rallied to win those and eliminated Ensworth in the third set to advance to the penultimate round of the event.
Baylor (34-7) won a marathon first set against Catholic to begin Wednesday’s match, taking it 28-26. It cruised to a two-set lead with a 25-15 owning of Catholic in the second stanza.
But the Lady Irish rallied and flexed the muscle that helped it win it all last season, claiming the third and fourth sets, respectively, 25-15 and 25-13.
Catholic led 7-6 early in the fifth set but could never pull away. The set was tied at 9-all. Baylor led 11-9 before Catholic knotted it again at 12-12. But Baylor finished it off in the fifth, 16-14.
The Lady Irish’s season ended 27-13 while Baylor (34-7) advanced to face Briarcrest (33-6) — last year’s state runner-up to Catholic — in Thursday’s championship match.
After falling in their first match of the week on Tuesday, the Maryville Lady Rebels answered the bell Wednesday. They knocked off state-tournament rookie West Ridge: 25-19, 25-20, 24-26, 25-18.
But now, the real test begins. Maryville will have to win three times — yes, three times — Thursday if it is to reach the Friday championship match. The first step in that gauntlet for Maryville (32-14) comes at 9:30 a.m. Central time Thursday against Hillsboro (24-8). That match will be played at Rockvale High School in Rutherford County.
Maryville should have the experience edge, as the Lady Rebels are making their third straight appearance at state and head coach Chris Hames was the architect of many a state championship in her time at Webb; Hillsboro’s appearance this week is its program’s first in 40 years.
Greeneville rebounded from an opening-round loss on Tuesday. The Lady Greene Devils (29-7) took down Murfreesboro Central in Murfreesboro in four sets. Murfreesboro Central dominated the opening set, 25-12, but Greeneville quickly regained its bearings and won the the next three sets, 25-20, 25-17 and 26-24.
Greeneville, like Maryville, will have to win three matches Thursday to reach Friday’s championship match. Greeneville begins that possible lengthy journey at 9:30 a.m. Central time Thursday against Signal Mountain (29-12). That match will be played at Siegel High in Murfreesboro. Signal Mountain has played in each of the last three state tournaments.
South Greene won it all last year in Class A, the program’s first state volleyball championship in 16 appearances.
The Lady Rebels, this week, seem to be unintentionally following the same navigation through the bracket. Last year, South Greene lost to Loretto in the second round and then ripped off four wins in a row to claim the gold.
Wednesday, Loretto (38-11) got the better of South Greene again, taking down the Lady Rebels 25-18, 21-25, 25-16, and 25-16.
That dropped South Greene into Thursday’s losers’ bracket scenario, where South Greene (36-7) will have to win three times in the day to reach Friday’s finale. Its first match Thursday will be against Chattanooga School for Arts & Sciences at 9:30 a.m. at Blackman High School in Murfreesboro.
This is the first state-tournament appearance in CSAS program history.