Webb School of Knoxville will be playing for a state volleyball record Thursday morning at 10 a.m. ET at Middle Tennessee State University’s Murphy Center.
Concord Christian School will be playing the role of giant killer.
Webb (35-7) will be going for its sixth consecutive Division II-A state title against Concord Christian (36-11) in the championship match.
“I think we definitely have the advantage of being there before,” Webb coach Chris Hames said. “Like I tell our girls, if we control our side, we should win. Obviously ‘should’ is the operative word.”
The Division II-A final is the first of five TSSAA state championship matches Thursday at MTSU.
Webb will set the state record of six consecutive state titles by beating Concord Christian School but will share the record if five-time defending champion Brentwood wins the Class AAA state title again in Thursday’s last match scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.
Concord Christian is in the state volleyball tournament for the fifth time and playing in its first state championship match.
The Lady Lions are 0-3 against Webb this season but took a set from the Lady Spartans in a postseason match.
“They’re a good team,” Concord Christian coach Carmen Hochevar said of Webb. “I don’t take anything away from what they have. They’re solid, but we’re peaking, and we beat them a set. We’re rising to the occasion.”
Heritage (30-8) was ousted from the Class AAA state tournament Wednesday, and Gatlinburg-Pittman (17-11) lost in the Class A tournament. Both were making first-ever appearances in the state volleyball tournament.
Heritage lost to Houston 25-20, 27-25, 25-12 in the losers’ bracket — about 13 hours after the Lady Mountaineers pulled out a five-set losers’-bracket victory over Collierville in a match that ended at about 1 a.m. ET Wednesday.
G-P lost in the second round of the losers’ bracket to South Greene in four sets.
Catholic (25-9) lost a five-set thriller in the Class AA losers-bracket final Wednesday afternoon to Portland in a rematch of the 2017 state championship match won by Portland, 3-1. The Lady Irish won the second and third sets and then led late in the fifth set Wednesday but ultimately gave way to Portland’s rally.
The Lady Irish dropped into the losers’ bracket on Wednesday night and defeated East Hamilton in three sets for the second time in three days for another shot at Portland (43-7) in Thursday’s Class AA state championship scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET.
Catholic won the Class AA state championship in 2016 and was runner-up in 2015 and 2017.
Webb defeated Harding Academy 25-11, 25-15, 25-18 in Wednesday’s winners-bracket final of the four-team Division II-A bracket.
Several hours later, Concord Christian beat Harding Academy 22-25, 25-20, 25-11, 25-21, and avenged a four-set loss to Harding in Tuesday’s opening round.
“We lost the first set (Wednesday), and I said to the girls, ‘We just have to turn the match around and do what they did to us,’ ” Hochevar said. “That’s just what they did.”
Hochever said Harding’s players were gassed from the loss to Webb.
“They were worn out,” she said. “I don’t want to take anything away from how well we played, but there was no life or energy in (Harding as the match progressed).”
Concord Christian freshman Annabelle Sulish had a huge match against Harding Academy with 21 kills, 10 digs, and an ace.
Freshman setter Emma Meyer had a career-high 47 assists, eight digs, one kill and one assist, and freshman libero Karson Brock had 30 digs, four aces and an assist.
Sidney Sherrill, an East Tennessee State University commitment and one of two seniors on the team, had 20 kills, four digs, two blocks and an ace.
Concord Christian had five freshmen on the court at times.
“We’re young, but yet they believe every detail I’m telling them,” Hochevar said. “I don’t have any attitudes (of players) to coach. I just have players playing for each other. From Day One I knew the chemistry on this team would pull us through a lot of stuff.”
It will be tested again Thursday morning by Webb.
Senior outside hitter Kayleigh Hames, daughter of Chris Hames and a Pepperdine commitment, led the Lady Spartans against Hardin Academy with 25 kills, seven digs, three blocks, and two aces.
Also for Webb, Leoni Kunz had eight kills and four digs; setter Haley Jenkins posted 37 assists, two kills and three digs; and Bailey Musrock had six kills and seven digs.
“I think we did a good job controlling the ball on our side, took some good swings, and served well,” Hames said. “That put a lot of pressure on their serve-receive.”
Thursday’s final will be emotional for Chris Hames, in her seventh year as Webb’s coach. She’s had one of her two daughters playing for the Lady Spartans for the past six seasons.
Nicklin Hames, Kayleigh’s older sister, is a freshman starting setter for defending national champion Nebraska.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Chris Hames said. “I think they’ve made a huge impact with the program and with the success of the program. It will be kind of bittersweet, but now (Nicklin’s) playing in the Big Ten and getting to experience that, and Kayleigh’s going to be heading to California and will get the experience of playing at Pepperdine.
“That’s what it’s about, getting those kids ready to play at the next level if that’s what they want to do. I think they’ve enjoyed the high school season, both of them, just to play for their school.”