Lady Mavericks take district championship

On Tuesday, the Anderson County Lady Mavericks won the District 4-2A Tournament.

They beat Clinton in the semi-finals and Gibbs in the finals, each in straight sets, to advance to the Region 2-2A Tournament.

In the opener of the evening, Clinton gave the Lady Mavericks all they wanted in the first set. The Dragons led 9-2 at one point but the Lady Mavs slowly chipped away at the lead. With senior Maddy Taylor serving for Anderson County, the Lady Mavs claimed their first lead of the set at 12-11.

But the young Clinton squad did not fold. Instead they battled back behind the scoring of sophomore Makenzie McNeal and senior Kindrix Bean to take a 15-12 lead.

The set continued back and forth as both teams expended a great deal of effort and energy. The grind favored the deeper and more experienced Lady Mavs as they substituted seven times to only three for the Dragons.

The lead continued to change hands until Anderson County took a 24-23 lead and then clinched with the decisive 25th point.

The Lady Mavs took the second set 25-15 as the physical and psychological toll began to wear on Clinton. The spark that defined their effort in the first set was gone and momentum was with Anderson County, the undefeated regular season champions.

The third set saw the Lady Mavs win 25-10.

“I think we surprised them in the first set. We started fast but our lack of depth caught up with us. We have so many players out with injuries and there just were not enough players on the bench. Our girls played hard. They have no reason to keep their heads down,” said Susan Zellner, head coach of the Dragons.

“I think we were a little nervous [in the first set] going into the first round of the tournament and Clinton always brings their best and it’s always a good match. I think the girls did a good job of getting over the hump and playing through that lull,” said Jayme Smith, head coach of the Lady Mavs.

While Anderson County and Clinton completed their match number two seed Gibbs and number three seed Grainger battled in an epic five-set showdown.

Gibbs edged the Lady Grizzlies to advance to face the Lady Mavs.

In the first set, the Lady Eagles got off to a fast start as they jumped out to an 11-7 lead. The Lady Mavs rallied to take an 18-17 lead and then pulled ahead to win 25-18.

The second set was much the same as Gibbs shuffled players in and out of the lineup, pushing Anderson County until late in the set when the Lady Mavs surged ahead to win 25-21.

Just as with Clinton earlier in the evening, the third set saw the Lady Eagles lack the energy they displayed in the first two sets.

Anderson County easily won the third set 25-19 and claimed the tournament championship.

“Gibbs did a really great job. They’ve got a great group of girls. I think we just overmatched them in our ability to swing and block,” Smith said.

“From here on out, the competition is just going to get better and better so we’re going to have to elevate our level of play as we go,” she said.

For their efforts, they were scheduled to face Alcoa on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Knoxville Catholic High School in the opening round of the region tournament. The winner advanced to play the winner of Knoxville Catholic and Gibbs.

Lady Mavs’ Maddy Taylor, Hannah Freeman, Gracie Webb, Emily Sparks, and Madison Gossett were named to the All-District Tournament Team.

Clinton’s Abbie Stinnett was also named to the team.