By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In recent years, Wendy Porter’s Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels have joined the discussion with multiple trips to Sub-State in Division II-A. Last Monday the Class 3A Lady Cougars made the trip down to TRA for an early season challenge.
In addition to a challenge, the Munford players got a surprise exam from “The Test” Sarah Allyn Thornell. The Lady Rebel with the initials S.A.T. made numerous clutch plays to help her team outlast Munford 25-22, 25-20 and 25-22.
“We (the young players) have to step up because we graduated a lot of talent from last year,” Thornell said. “So I’ve been trying to step up my play and be more aggressive.”
Both teams were lackadaisical in the opening moments of the first set. After Lady Cougar Cierra Atkinson tied the set at 7-7 with a spike, Thornell broke the deadlock with a kill of her own.
The seesaw trend continued throughout the first frame with six more ties and four lead changes. Deadlock at 20-20, Thornell came through once again with a kill to make the score 21-20. Munford managed to tie the contest at 21-21 when TRA seized control of the first set behind a spike by Mary Leslie Cranford. With the score 24-22, Thornell made the 25th point with a push.
In the second set Munford was dominate at the net behind the play of Jordan Moore, Sam Hopper and Hannah Burkhart. The trio used their length and athleticism to cause Lady Rebel eras and block spike attempts.
Moore’s second block of the set made the score 10-4 in favor of Munford. After another Moore block made the score 12-5, TRA responded with a 10-3 run to deadlock the set at 15-15.
The Lady Rebels received timely plays from Neely Turner and Mary Catherine Turner. Cranford made an adjustment at the net striking two kills during the rally.
Once the set was tied, the teams were tied three more times. TRA’s Eva McIntosh scored on a tip making the tally 20-19. The Lady Rebels outscored Munford 5-1 down the stretch closing out the action with a Thornell leaping-reverse tip over the net. As Thornell jumped toward her right, she placed the ball over the net toward the left flowing away from the point.
The Lady Cougars continued to display fight in the third set jumping out 9-3 behind blocking points from Hopper, Moore and Maddie Rittinger.
Later in the frame Atkinson attacked the net with a spike to make the score 11-4. TRA snapped out of its funk sparked by Cranford’s spike making the score 13-7 in favor the Lady Cougars.
The Lady Rebels went on a 11-5 run to tie the third set at 18-18. Once again ‘The Test’ had the answers with Thornell scoring on a tip and kill to make the score 21-18. Both teams scored four points down the stretch but that amount gave TRA a 25-22 victory and the sweep.
As August concludes, Cranford said the Lady Rebels are trying to get their minds right to make another run at Sub-State in October.
“As a whole what we have to do is mental,” she concluded. “It’s all mental for us. Tonight we did a good job of coming back. But in the past, like the games we played this past weekend in Collierville, we would be up and down like a roller coaster. So we have to stay mentally up and keep building and building.”