Sonoraville High School’s volleyball team made the big runs in the finals of Saturday’s Raider Rally tournament.
Southeast Whitfield kept running into a wall trying to come back.
The Lady Phoenix scored 10 straight points in the second game against the host Lady Raiders and won the finals matchup 25-22, 25-19.
Christian Heritage, Dalton and Northwest Whitfield also competed in the eight-team tournament, which started in the morning with two pools of four-team play followed by a seeded single-elimination tournament.
Southeast trounced Ringgold 25-23, 25-11 in the first round of the tournament and topped LaFayette 25-16, 25-12 to reach the finals. Sonoraville beat Dalton 25-21, 25-15 in the first round and then topped Christian Heritage 25-14, 25-10 in the semifinals to meet Southeast.
The Lady Phoenix (33-7) trailed 8-6 in the first game versus the Lady Raiders (22-10) but scored seven of eight points for a 13-9 lead.
Southeast never again took the lead, only tying once at 18 before Sonoraville scored the next four points and then finished off the game with a kill from Kristi Vaughn.
“Once you’re in a run against you, it’s tough,” Southeast coach Bethany Kenemer said. “I told the girls to dig deep, move your feet and make one pass to get out of it. That’s tough to do against a good team, and Sonoraville is a very good team.”
In the second game, the Lady Raiders took a 7-3 lead following one of Wendy Perez’s eight kills in the match. The Lady Phoenix responded with 10 consecutive points, taking a 13-7 lead. Southeast again made a run to narrow the deficit, closing the score to 19-18, but Sonoraville scored five straight points and finished the game with a kill from Carrie Cheeks.
“I told the girls this would be a game of runs,” Lady Phoenix coach Trace Vaughn said. “It was about keeping your head up when you’re on the wrong side of it.”
Southeast reached the Class 4A semifinals last season and has won back-to-back area championships. Sonoraville made it all the way to the Class 3A quarterfinals last year.
“We played Sonoraville earlier in the year and got beat pretty bad,” Kenemer said. “It was a lot more competitive this time. We got down but fought back for every point. If you lose, that’s the way to do it, fighting for every single point. I’m thrilled with how we played”
The Lady Raiders won all three of their pool games — beating Christian Heritage 25-12, 25-14, Dalton 25-18, 25-12 and LaFayette 25-20, 25-17 — and won Pool A. Angie Purkey had 79 assists and 17 digs for the entire tournament, while Perez finished with 38 kills and 20 digs. Yasmeen Paloblanco had 33 digs, and Gaby Gonzalez added 24 kills.
The Lady Lions (17-10) finished second, beating Dalton 23-25, 25-16, 25-18 and LaFayette 20-25, 25-23, 27-25. Christian Heritage’s Jessica Seehorn tallied 63 assists, 25 kills and 10 aces throughout the tournament. Brenna Mugge had 55 digs and Savannah Roberson had 53 digs plus 45 kills. Mariah Cox added seven aces and seven digs.
“I think overall, we had some moments where we didn’t play well,” Lady Lions community coach Lisa Donahue said. “Even though we lost in the first sets to Dalton and LaFayette, I was happy with how we came back.”
Christian Heritage and LaFayette did not play for third place.
The Lady Catamounts (6-22) finished last in Pool A, losing to LaFayette 25-16, 28-26. Alejandra Fraire and Hannah Cox each had 13 kills. Ashleigh Peters and Alexis Yi each added 11 kills. Macie Noles led the team in assists and had 32 digs.
“We knew we’d be building this year, so we’ve been working hard at getting better,” Dalton coach Joey Wills said. “While our win-loss record isn’t where we need it to be, our play is getting better. For instance, when we played Sonoraville last time, it wasn’t as competitive.”
In Pool B, Sonoraville won all three of its games — 25-14, 25-19 over Northwest, 25-14, 25-14 against RInggold and 25-19, 26-24 versus Gilmer. The Lady Bruins finished second, beating Ringgold 25-19, 25-21 and Gilmer 25-14, 26-24. Gilmer finished third in the pool, beating Ringgold 18-25, 25-22, 25-23.
Northwest, though, lost 25-18, 25-15 to LaFayette in the first round of tournament play. Peyton maret had 16 kills and 12 aces, Mary Kate Allen finished with 31 kills and Whitley Brooker ended with 30 assists for the Lady Bruins (19-15).
“We have got to be mentally focused for the next two weeks,” Northwest coach Jennifer Quinn said. “We have three matches this week, and then next week is the (Area 7-4A) tournament.”