The Lady Senator Volleyball Team competed in the largest tournament in East Tennessee on September 9 at the Leconte Convention Center in Sevierville. The team finished just short of its goal losing in the finals to Mary Hughes School of upper East Tennessee.
The tournament started early for the team from Norris with an 8:30 a.m. match versus Blountville Middle School.
The Lady Senators started strong with a 25-12 victory in set one then lost their focus in the early morning dropping the second set 18-25.
The second set loss was their first set loss since opening night at Jefferson on Aug. 14. NMS refocused and took the third set 15-10 to win the match.
Leading the way for the Lady Senators were Sadie Alvis with seven points and two aces while Emily Varner chipped in seven points as well.
The next pool play match was against East Limestone Middle School from the volleyball hotbed of Huntsville, Ala. On paper, this looked like a tough matchup for the Lady Senators, however, on the court is was a different story as NMS dominated the match winning in straight sets 25-14, 25-12.
NMS libero Leah Freeman served an amazing six aces and 11 points for the match including aces on the final two points of the match.
The final match of pool play was a rematch of last year’s Sectional Tournament Final against Robinson Middle School of Kingsport.
Norris Middle started game one ready to play leaping out to a 6-0 lead off the dominating net play of Jayce Braden and the blistering serving of Leah Freeman.
NMS continued to control the match extending their lead to 23-7 before winning 25-8.
The NMS defense and transition game kept Robinson from scoring any points off of their service game. In set two, the Lady Senators kept the pressure on and continued their domination with NMS setter Kylee Alvis ending the match with a wicked serve resulting in an ace.
The win advanced NMS to the semifinals versus Buckhorn Middle School, another Huntsville area team. The single elimination playoff format brought out the best in the Lady Senators as the team jumped out to a 16-6 lead and a timeout from Buckhorn.
After the timeout, outside hitter Emily Varner served up two consecutive aces as the Lady Senators cruised to a 25-15 victory in set one.
Set two was a repeat of the first with stellar passing from Erin Cantrell and Sadie Alvis as well as two more aces off the Emily Varner jump serve with the team from Norris winning the second set 25-14 propelling them to the finals.
The finals started out good for the Senators as they jumped out to an early 6-1 lead. After 14 more points and a Mary Hughes Middle School timeout, the Lady Senator lead stood at 20-11.
It was then when the late night at the ACHS vs. Clinton football game started to take its toll on Norris.
Mary Hughes cut the lead to 21-18 when Coach Harshbarger called a timeout. The break in action seemed to have no effect as Mary Hughes scored two more quick points to knot the set at 20-20.
Norris then jumped back ahead 23-20 and it seemed as though the Lady Senators would close out the set.
However, the team from Piney Flats had other plans, outscoring the Lady Senators 5-1 to win the set 26-24.
The emotional letdown of losing a game you had controlled most of the way made the start of the second set a tough one for Norris.
Mary Hughes lead 12-8 as nothing seemed to go right for the team from Norris. This is point in a match when most teams would cash it in and just give up being down one set to none and trailing in the deciding game, but not Norris Middle.
Allie Ammons, a player who was cut from the team her seventh grade year, led a Lady Senator come back run that tied the set at 20-20.
Ammons’ emotion and pin-point spiking brought new life to NMS but the team missed two of its last three serves giving Mary Hughes two points and a chance to win the match which they seized winning the set 25-22.
The loss was the first of the season for Norris moving their record to 18-1.
The Lady Senators will face one final regular season tournament in Lebanon before starting postseason play at Clinton Middle on Tuesday, Sept. 26.