By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Hardin County Lady Tigers already made history before the first whistle of the District 13-3A Volleyball Tournament championship game.
But it was their opponent Thursday night, the Munford Lady Cougars who wanted to make another historic mark by the final whistle. The Lady Tigers clinched their first trip to Regionals after defeating Dyer County in the semifinal round.
But the Lady Cougars’ Class of 2015 members were trying to win it’s fourth straight tournament title while remaining unbeaten in league play the entire time. Munford eliminated rivals the Brighton Lady Cardinals in the semifinals.
Then in three sets, 25-16, 25-15 and 25-16, the Lady Cougars were championships again and advanced to the Region 7-3A Tournament this week a No. 1 seed.
“We had some experienced players,” Munford Head Coach Angie Buchanan said. “And they have been part of the tradition of winning. I inherited a good team and I just kind of kept them going. A lot of seniors on the team and they were ready to play today. They’ve had the experience of playing in the championship.”
Munford seniors Taylor Hobson, Maddison Welch, Abigail Bell, Lily “Hammer” Turner and Cecily Gable all played key roles in the 2014 District 13-3A Volleyball Tournament. Welch, Turner and Gable were named to the All-Tournament Team with Gable being named MVP.
In the title game, Gable sparked Munford breaking a 7-7 deadlock. Her kill made the score 11-7. Then Lady Cougar underclassman Neely Rhea took serve putting Munford ahead 14-7. Turner and Gable attacked the net guiding Munford to a 25-16 first set win.
Gable continued her MVP effort with two kills and ace to give Munford a 5-4 lead in the second set.
Then Turner hammered down a pair of spikes to put the Lady Cougars ahead 9-5. Setting the duo most of the time was Welch.
The Lady Tigers clawed to within 10-8 before Hobson took serve. The senior gave Hardin County all types of issues with her serving leading to a 15-8 advantage.
Then late in the second set Gable scored on a bump, kill, back row spike and ace to make the tally 22-13. After a Turner spike put the Lady Cougars on the brink of victory, Lady Cougar De’Asha Banks served up an ace to win the second set 25-15.
One set away from another district title, the Lady Cougars found themselves in a seesaw affair with the third set tied at 6-6, 11-11 and 13-13. Then Munford proceeded with a 9-2 run capped off with a Turner kill. Then Munford’s Sloan Caruthers closed out the championship with a kill.
Buchanan said her seniors and underclassmen were able to step up at crucial times in the district tournament because of the work from August and September.
“We played a very hard schedule,” he said. “We picked up an extra tournament they didn’t used to play. We played a lot of team from Memphis this year. We probably played 10 more games than they’re used to playing. I thought we were much more prepared, we played a tough schedule this year that prepared us for this tournament.”
Both Munford and Hardin County advanced to the Region tournament that was played at Bartlett High School by the top two teams from District 14-3A. Buchanan said her team had to stay focused to continue it’s streak of seven straight Sub-State appearances.
“We’re just going to have to be more consistent,” she concluded. “We’re going to play some teams with more consistency. So playing teams with more consistency was my goal. We won’t be surprised by anything we see Tuesday.”