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Lady Pioneers stake out new territory: VHSL tourney

Kevin Mays • Nov 13, 2019 at 12:01 AM

COEBURN — The defending VHSL Class 1 champions are back in the state volleyball tournament, joined by a team that’s never been before.

Title-holder Patrick Henry moved into Wednesday’s Region 1D championship with its 25-21, 25-22, 25-13 semifinal win over Cumberland District champion Eastside on Tuesday night inside Eastside’s gym.

Thomas Walker fought its way to its first regional championship match and state berth with a 24-26, 25-22, 25-21, 25-17 semifinal victory over Holston.

Patrick Henry (30-1) and Thomas Walker (18-7) meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Eastside in the region final. Both had already qualified for Saturday’s Class 1 quarterfinals.

INTO THE RECORD BOOKS

Every Thomas Walker win adds to its historic season. The Lady Pioneers beat Grundy last week in the regional quarterfinals for a school first.

Tuesday’s semifinal victory was another first for Thomas Walker and second-year coach Kristen Parker.

“I couldn’t be prouder as a coach,” Parker said of her team’s play. “We gave up a lot of service errors but we came back.

“They’re a good team, a well-coached team, but my girls came to play tonight.”

Thomas Walker led most of the first set before a late scoring run carried the Lady Cavaliers to the win.

Holston (16-7) seemed to be on its way to another win after using a 13-2 run to build a 20-12 lead in the second set. But the Lady Pioneers countered with their own 13-2 run — powered by Talyn Dibrell’s front-line play — to even the match 1-1.

Thomas Walker held on through a tough third set then used a 12-2 run in the fourth to take the match victory.

Dibrell finished with 17 kills and two blocks. Lakin Burke had 11 kills and four blocks, Madison Mayes added eight kills and Isabella Schwartz finished with 35 assists for Thomas Walker.

Holston got nine kills apiece from Jordan Lowe and Liyah French. Abbey Conde had 32 assists and 25 digs.

BLOCK PARTY

Patrick Henry dominated the front offensively and defensively against Eastside (20-5). Abigail Belcher, Ella Maiden and Avery Maiden combined for 14 blocks.

The Lady Rebels’ rotation did not give the Lady Spartans any breaks with its front-line attack.

“That’s been nice this year and even when they’re off, I’ve got girls on the bench ready to go in and make it happen,” said Patrick Henry coach Pam Newberry.

Ella Maiden recorded 19 kills and four blocks for the Lady Rebels. Belcher had eight kills and five blocks and Avery Maiden, a freshman, finished with four kills, five blocks, 27 assists and eight digs.

Patrick Henry also got 16 digs apiece from Alyssa Evans and Hannah Holmes. Ellie Johnson added 12.

Eastside got 11 kills and 13 digs from Anna Whited, and Tinley Hamilton had 14 assists and 10 digs.

Kacie Jones finished with 15 digs, and Leci Sensabaugh and Laura Lanteri had 12 apiece for the Lady Spartans.