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South handles Greeneville, Elizabethton on way to Region 1-AA title

Johnny Wilson, Sports Correspondent • Oct 16, 2019 at 1:36 AM

KINGSPORT — Sometimes a team need not look any farther than its own back yard to find the best competition. Sullivan South and Elizabethton know.

The District 1 rivals spanked their District 2 counterparts during the Region 1-AA volleyball tournament on Tuesday at Sullivan South, rolling to straight-set semifinal victories before squaring off in the championship game to cap the evening.

And to no one’s surprise, South emerged with another Region 1 crown after battling past the always-game Lady Cyclones 25-23, 25-21, 25-18.

The homestanding Lady Rebels had opened the tournament with a 25-16, 25-13, 25-17 semifinal waltz past Greeneville, prior to Elizabethton’s 25-15, 25-15, 25-12 smackdown of Seymour, the top seed out of District 2.

“Historically speaking, District 1 has always been pretty good in Triple-A and in Double-A, too,” said longtime South coach Wendy Ratliff, whose 2013 and 2015 teams won two of South’s five state volleyball titles. “I hope both of these teams can win their sub-state games Thursday and move on to state.”

South (24-14) hosts Gibbs in its sectional game Thursday. Elizabethton (24-16) travels to Anderson County.

Ratliff wouldn’t address her squad’s chances down the road.

“Let us get through sub-state if we can and we’ll see from there,” she said.

WATSON STARS

As usual, South was led to victory by senior outside hitter Abbey Jayne, who earned Region 1 most valuable player honors with her 14-kill, nine-dig effort.

However, junior Katie Watson — with her 12 kills — was money all night as well.

“She stepped up big time and took a lot of pressure off everybody,” Ratliff said. “I think she kind of made our game complete today. I’m proud of her.”

The duo received help from Molly Williams (15 digs), Olivia Delung (14 assists) and Makki Compton (13 assists). Izzy Musick provided four blocks for South.

ELIZABETHTON LEADERS

Leslee Bradley’s Lady Cyclones were led statistically by Jordan Smith’s nine kills, Josie Lyons’ 12 assists and Deanna Hull’s 18 digs.

Elizabethton, however, just couldn’t produce a big play when needed, like when the first game was tied at 19 and the second game at 18. And in the third game, the Lady Cyclones could not hold an early 4-1 edge.

South has beaten Elizabethton in all four of their head-to-head matches this season.

“I think when it’s close like that, we get in our heads that we’re good and then we slack up,” said Elizabethton senior Kaitlin Bailey. “That’s our downfall.”

ALL-TOURNAMENT

Joining Jayne on the all-tournament team were Lady Rebels teammates Watson and Williams, Elizabethton’s Smith and Bailey, Laura Patterson of Seymour and Timayan Curry of Greeneville.