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Dobyns-Bennett volleyball rules alone atop Big 6

Jeff Birchfield • Oct 1, 2019 at 10:54 PM

KINGSPORT — Dobyns-Bennett entered its Senior Night with thoughts of earning a share of the Big 6 Conference volleyball championship. Instead, the Lady Indians have the title all to themselves.

The Lady Indians did their part with a 3-1 victory over Tennessee High at the Buck Van Huss Dome on Tuesday then got the somewhat unexpected surprise of Science Hill’s 3-1 win over Daniel Boone. The combined results gave the Lady Indians (17-6, 9-1) the conference title outright and the No. 1 seed in next week’s District 1-AAA tournament.

Getting out to early leads in the first, third and fourth games, the Lady Indians won 25-15, 25-14, 21-25, 25-23. There was a loud cheer when the girls found out they had the outright championship.

“I was surprised. Science Hill is a really good team and so is Boone,” D-B senior Staley Humphries said. “But Boone is a good team with a lot of energy that overpowers a lot of teams.”

The same could be said for the Tribe in those early games. The Lady Indians pulled ahead 9-1 in the first game and 7-0 in the second game. It put Tennessee High in an uphill battle all evening and gave first-year coach Haley Price a chance to carry on D-B’s championship tradition.

Price gave a lot of the praise to Kathi Shaffer, who coached D-B to the 2009 state championship and joined the staff earlier this season. The coach also noted that Tuesday was the first time in a while that all nine Tribe starters were on the court at the same time.

“It’s our first season and we have some good returners from last year’s team,” Price noted. “We’ve got a couple of the girls with experience, but we’ve been battling through a lot of adversity with injuries. Watching Caroline (Cable) come back in, it was great tonight to have all nine playing.”

Sarah Moore paced D-B with 14 kills, and Sithney Wolfe had 11 kills and two blocks.

Hannah Watson, who finished with 10 kills and two blocks, was among the players who dealt with injuries this season.

“I feel like we’ve struggled playing as a team as a whole,” said Watson, who battled a shoulder injury. “We’re starting to get our chemistry back and we’re playing well together. It felt good to have us all back on the court again. All of our energy connected really well.”

They were often connected by Rylee Waye, who had 34 assists and 17 digs. Carly Shell had a team-best 21 digs and was particularly effective with her serves, notching six aces. Other contributors were Zoie Larkins (15 digs), Mykenzie Thompson (11 digs), Humphries (seven kills, 10 digs) and Meg Maynor (five kills).

Tennessee High (24-15, 4-6) showed a ton of fight after getting blown out in the first two games. The Lady Vikings took an early 5-0 lead in the third and never trailed in the game. D-B jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the fourth and led 15-6 before Tennessee High closed to within 24-23 before an attempted block went out of bounds.

“I told them I’m much happier with how we ended than how we started,” Lady Vikings coach Mary Johnson said. “We started super slow. You come into D-B’s gym and they have a tradition. We never play well here. I told the girls I was glad with the fight we had at the end. We’re going to need that at the district tournament.”

Kloey Tester led the Lady Vikings with a dozen kills, eight digs and three blocks. Macy Hurley totaled 12 digs. Riley McCracken had five kills and eight assists, and Madison Curtin also totaled eight assists.

The District 1-AAA tournament gets underway Monday at Volunteer.

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