Net gains

Region loss doesn’t dampen season’s main story

Farragut — It can be difficult to reflect immediately following a season-ending loss, but Kelsey Cline summarized the 2008 Maryville High School volleyball season with the eloquence of a poet after a region tournament loss to Oak Ridge.

“Lots of friends,” the Lady Rebel senior said.

The Lady Wildcats built a commanding lead in the fourth and deciding game, held off a Maryville rally and eliminated the Lady Rebels in a Region 2AAA semifinal, 25-16, 22-25, 25-21, 25-22, Tuesday night at Farragut High School.

The host Lady Admirals dispatched Oak Ridge in straight games, 25-21, 25-22, 25-17, in the championship match, with both teams earning a berth in Thursday’s sectional round.

The Lady Rebels, the regular season District 4AAA champions, could never find a rhythm against Oak Ridge. Hesitation allowed too many balls to hit the floor in backcourt. Play at the net was sporadic.

Even a strong night at the service line by senior Marra McGinley, who rallied Maryville from a 22-16 deficit in the final game to within a point, failed to bring coach Angel Babelay’s team fully to life.

“We could not get it rolling, get our momentum going,” Babelay said. “We were sitting back, waiting for somebody else to make a play. We were not aggressive tonight.”

It was tough way to end things for a team that had run off 29 victories against nine losses this season, given the fact how all those wins were accumulated.

In past years, the Lady Rebels have always had that one dominant player — at the net or in backcourt — who could rally the troops at a moment’s notice. From Lindsy Little to Sarah Roberts, there was always that big hitter who could turn a match with one booming smash.

The 2008 Lady Rebels entered the season with no such player. They were, however, a team, one where every player would have a role.

“I’m very proud of this team,” Babelay said. “When we came in this summer, our goal was to play as a team, to back each other up and to stay positive. All you can say is you had a great year, which they had.”

Maryville didn’t play Oak Ridge during the regular season, the first time in several years the Lady Rebels and Lady Wildcats had no previous meeting before tournament time. With no victory to build on or loss to avenge, the Lady Rebels found it difficult to get motivated Tuesday, Cline said.

“If we don’t consider them a rival,” she said, “we don’t come out fired up.”

The loss will sting for a while, but the friendships made, as Cline alluded to earlier, will endure.

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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