MURFREESBORO – Webb School of Knoxville volleyball coach Chris Hames hoisted the Division II-A state championship plaque for the sixth consecutive time Thursday morning.
How sweet it was.
Her daughter, 6-foot-2 senior Kayleigh Hames, was awarded the tournament’s most valuable player after the Lady Spartans (36-7) posted a 25-11, 25-16, 29-27 victory over Concord Christian School (36-12) at Middle Tennessee State University’s Murphy Center.
“This is amazing,” Kayleigh Hames said. “All the girls are awesome. We have an awesome coach. Just winning this last one, making history, is a cherry on top being the only senior. It was great going out with a win.”
Webb set the record for consecutive state titles that could be tied by Brentwood if it wins the Class AAA state title in Thursday’s last match.
It was a remarkable run for Webb volleyball with Chris Hames and her daughters, Nicklin and Kayleigh. Nicklin is now the senior starting setter at Nebraska. Kayleigh will play at Pepperdine next year.
“I’ve had at least one of them for the six (state titles) that we’ve won,” Chris Hames said. “It will be a bit of an adjustment (next year), but we have some good young kids, really good setter, two good juniors that take good swings. It will definitely be a different dynamic next year. I was proud of how they competed, and I think we’ll be good again next year.”
Webb returns its entire roster except for Kayleigh Hames.
“We’re a very young team,” sophomore setter Haley Jenkins said, “so in the future, we might not be as big and strong, but we’ll definitely still give everything we have. It won’t be like it is today, but we’ll still give everything we have and be our best.”
Concord Christian made its first appearance in a state volleyball final and its fifth overall trip to state.
The Lady Lions have just two seniors, outside hitter Sidney Sherrill and middle blocker Elizabeth Dawson.
“What we saw today was the nerves and the lights with the freshmen,” Concord Christian coach Carmen Hochevar said. “We have five (freshmen) on the floor at one time, but they started to jell, and I thought we were going to be able to take them in that third set. We’re young, and that’s what we have right now going against us, but we’ll be back.”
Concord Christina never led during the first two sets and was only tied twice early in the second set.
The Lady Lions regrouped in the third and built a 12-9 lead.
“I called a timeout and said, ‘Look if we can get it close, we can win this,’ ” Chris Hames said.
Concord Christian led 18-12 and had two sets points at 24-22.
Webb tied it on kills by Bailey Musrock and Hames.
The Lady Lions had a third set point at 25-24, but it was saved on a kill by Musrock.
Webb got its third set point at 28-27 after a kill by Hames and clinched the match on an attack error by Concord Christian.
“We had a really tough start, but I really loved the way we finished,” said Sherrill, who has committed to East Tennessee State University. “We never gave up. We came out in the third set, and even though we lost the first two, it didn’t get us down, and we were able to fight back.”
Hames finished with 27 kills and 17 digs.
Musrock, a junior middle blocker, had 10 kills and seven digs. Junior right-side hitter Leoni Kunz had eight kills and seven digs. Jenkins had 41 assists and 12 digs.
“I knew we would come out strong,” Chris Hames said. “Obviously we’ve been here before, so I think that was a big advantage the first couple of sets. They kind of played a little bit nervous, but they’re a good team and I think the third set showed that. It was back and forth.”
Annabelle Sulish, a 5-10 freshman outside hitter, led Concord Christian with 21 kills and had nine digs.
Freshman setter Emma Meyer had 25 assists and 11 digs for the Lady Lions and freshman libero Karson Brock had 15 digs.
“It’s out first year making it to the state championship,” Sulish said, “so it’s pretty amazing just to experience it all the way around.”