By JESSE SMITHEY
Tough first day. Tough, tough first day.
But all is not lost.
The four area volleyball teams that made it to the first round of the TSSAA State Volleyball championships aren’t done yet.
Here’s a recap of what happened on Day One in Murfreesboro and what they need to do to stay alive and keep advancing.
Defending-champion Catholic wound up playing two matches Tuesday, as it dropped a first-round matchup with Briarcrest in four sets.
These two programs know each other well, and Catholic topped Briarcrest in last year’s state final.
The Lady Irish (26-12) dropped the first set to Briarcrest (32-6) on Tuesday by a narrow 25-22 count and then battled back in the second set for a 25-20 win. The ensuing two sets were tight, too, but Briarcrest won those, 25-21 and 25-23.
Briarcrest advanced into a Wednesday state semifinal against Baylor (34-6). Baylor defeated Ensworth in Round One in a five-set thriller, sending Ensworth (17-15) into a nightcap elimination match with Catholic at host-site Middle Tennessee Christian School (MTCS).
Catholic trailed for much of the first set against Ensworth but rallied for a 25-23 win.
Then, the Lady Irish rallied again in the second set against the Tigers, trailing by as much as 18-11 before pulling even at 24-all.
Catholic won the second set, 26-24.
That second comeback broke Ensworth’s spirit, as Catholic routed the Tigers in the third set 25-15 for the win to keep the season alive.
They’ll play again at 5 p.m. Central time Wednesday at MTCS against the loser of Wednesay’s Baylor-Briarcrest match.
Should Catholic win again Wednesday, it will move into Thursday’s championship match.
The Maryville Lady Rebels made their third consecutive appearance in the state tournament this week and much of what happened Tuesday seemed quite familiar to their trip in 2021 and in 2020.
Maryville, for the second year in a row, faced off against Collierville (35-8) in the first round of the Class AAA tournament
And, for the second year in a row, fell to Collierville in five sets. Collierville also eliminated Maryville from the 2020 tournament with a five-set win in a losers’ bracket matchup on Day Three.
This time around, Collierville got the win, 21-25, 25-15, 25-21, 23-25, 15-9.
Maryville (31-14) plays again in an elimination match at 5 p.m. Central time on Wednesday at Rockvale High School against state-tournament-rookie West Ridge (25-11). Should Maryville win that on Wednesday, it would need to win three matches Thursday to make it to Friday’s championship match.
Greeneville, in its fourth all-time appearance, dropped its opening match against one of the top volleyball teams in the state: Dyer County (44-4).
The Lady Choctaws won in four sets, 25-18, 14-25, 25-20, 25-20.
Greeneville (28-7) will try to fend off elimination at 2:30 p.m. Central time Wednesday against Murfreesboro Central (24-15) at host-site Siegel. Should Greeneville win that on Wednesday, it would need to win three matches Thursday to make it to Friday’s championship match.
South Greene (36-6), the defending state champion in Class A, was the only area team to win its opening match Tuesday. And now, the Lady Rebels are in Position A. They topped Halls (23-11) in three sets Tuesday night at Blackman High School to move into a noon showdown Wednesday against Loretto (37-11).
Should South Greene win that, it advances into Thursday’s semifinal round.
But South Greene knows that. No need to remind them.
Loretto beat South Greene in this same second-round winners’ bracket scenario last year. And then South Greene survived three elimination matches — the third of which came against Loretto — to reach the state finale.
That’s where they beat Summertown in five sets to claim the program’s first state title in 16 appearances.