By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Three teams showed up to the Division II-A West Regional Volleyball Tournament contest Thursday night in the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Gymnasium.
Of course the host TRA Lady Rebels took to the court as the No. 1 seed after winning the regular-season title. Their opponent was the traditional powerhouse No. 2-seeded St. George’s Lady Gryphons.
But the third team that would play a factor in the postseason showdown was the TRA Student Section. After the Lady Rebels got off to a slow start falling behind 8-2, the Student Section kept the faith despite TRA losing the first set 25-16.
Providing energy, clever chants and timely jeers, the TRA Student Section played a factor in the Lady Rebels’ historic 16-25, 27-25, 25-16 and 25-22 victory.
“This was a huge win,” TRA Head Coach Wendy Porter screamed over the sounds of a celebrating TRA student body. “In the years since I’ve coached here, we’ve never beaten St. George’s. We’ve gone to five but never beat them. It was also important because it puts us in the finals of our Region. It’s just a huge win to beat St. George’s.
“They were so huge for us,” she continued talking about the Student Section. “They helped us with the mental. Volleyball is a mental game. They kept our spirit up. They kept encouraging us. That’s what the girls needed.”
The Lady Rebels realized quickly the Lady Gryphons were prepared to continued their dominance over TRA. St. George’s standouts like Miaya Smith, Abby Walker and Lindsey Pepper controlled the net in the 25-16 victory.
Porter and the Lady Rebels made adjustments going into the second set. Sparked by players like Mary Cranford, TRA was able to hold off St. George’s 27-25.
Cranford slapped down a spike that tied that frame at 25-25. TRA achieved the final two points to tie the overall at 1-1 in sets.
TRA dominated the third set to go ahead 2-1 in sets behind seniors Kallie Alexander and Haley Ramsey. The duo scored on many serves and Ramsey seized control of the net with spikes and blocks.
After TRA’s 25-16 win, it was time for the fourth set. St. George’s displayed a champion’s heart leading 20-15 late in the set.
The Lady Gryphons were fully in survival mode when TRA started to comeback. The Lady Rebels wanted to end the night and Ramsey started the rally with a tip for a score.
After a Ramsey ace made the score 20-18, Alexander and Cranford had a highlight play combining for a block on Smith.
Moments later Alexander tied the set at 20-20 with a tip well-placed away from the St. George’s defense.
TRA outscored St. George’s 5-2 down the stretch for the win and to advance to the championship round of tournament in Fayette County.
“It’s going to be hard,” Porter said of the rest tournament. “I’m not oblivious to that. If we play like we did right here, we play like we want to win, if we play mentally tough I think we can we can take TRA to State.”
The Lady Rebels’ postseason run will continue this Saturday hosing Sub-State. It is TRA’s second straight year in the round and second in school history.