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Oak Ridge takes early control of District 3-AAA volleyball

Oak Ridge High School’s volleyball team opened its season last week with a pair of District 3-AAA victories.

The Lady Wildcats (2-0 overall, 2-0 in the district) also took a big step toward winning the regular-season championship and claiming the No. 1 seed in the postseason tournament by virtue of its four-set victory over defending regular-season and tournament champion West High in Knoxville Thursday night.

Oak Ridge worked 25-17, 25-19, 25-21 wins and an 18-25 loss over the Lady Rebels. After cruising to victory in the opening set after opening a 12-4 lead, the Lady Wildcats dropped the second game before capturing the final two sets.

But things weren’t exactly easy for Oak Ridge, which opened a big lead in the third set, going up, 9-1. But the Lady Rebels would battle back and pull to within 20-18 before the Lady Wildcats scored five of the final six points to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

In the decisive set, Oak Ridge fell behind 6-2 before battling back. The Lady Wildcats would seize control of the game thanks to a huge service run by libero Marissa Kenworthy. Oak Ridge scored on a side-out to pull to within 11-10 before Kenworthy served up 10 consecutive points, including three aces to give the Lady Wildcats a 20-12 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

First-year Head Coach Audrey Sherles said she was pleased with the way her team bounced back, not only in the fourth set but throughout the match that featured the two District 3-AAA heavyweights.

“We did a good job getting ourselves out of holes tonight,” Sherles said. “The season has just started, but I feel like we’ve done a good job digging ourselves out of holes.

“We don’t always do it quickly and we don’t do it slowly, but we do it consistently. I feel like we play pretty well consistently.”

Oak Ridge opened its 2022 campaign at home against league foe Powell on Tuesday, Aug. 16, at Wildcat Arena. The Lady Wildcats swept the Lady Panthers 25-9, 25-8, 25-9. Lily Yussau led the ORHS attack with 13 kills. Rebekah Gawthrop finished with six digs and three aces. Setter Peyton Upgraft dished out 32 assists against Powell.