Both matches went to four sets and offered up dramatic endings that set up Thursday’s 7 p.m. championship match.
SOUTH TOPS EAST
The top-seeded Lady Rebels, who had already qualified for the Region 1-AA tournament by virtue of their Three Rivers Conference regular-season championship, put away the fourth-seeded Lady Patriots 25-20, 14-25, 25-15, 25-19.
Abbey Jayne finished with 18 digs and 13 kills for South and Meredith St. Claire came up with 41 digs.
The Lady Rebels were shaky to open up the match, especially in the second set when the East service line got rolling and blew by them.
“The seniors really stepped up and made some better shot selections in the fourth set,” South coach Wendy Ratliff said. “We dug ourselves in a hole and we got out of it. We just found a way.”
The Lady Patriots played one of their best games of the season, coach Tracy Graybeal said.
“I was really proud of the effort our girls put out there tonight,” Graybeal said. “All four sets were way closer in play than they were on the scoreboard. The second set was the best we played all year. They played with a lot of heart.”
The second-seeded Lady Cyclones dug themselves in a big-time hole by dropping the first set to upset-minded Central — which lost both regular-season meetings with Elizabethton this year — before pulling out a 23-25, 27-25, 25-17, 25-22 win.
The match’s turning point came with Central, the No. 4 seed, leading 21-18 late in the second set. Elizabethton turned the tide and evened the match.
“The come from behind was the turning point,” Elizabethton coach Leslee Bradley said. “We were as good as dead right there. We made a couple of good hustle plays there late and started playing with a bit more urgency.”
Junior Morgan Smith finished with a triple-double of 16 kills, 15 assists and 10 digs for the Lady Cyclones. Sydney Goodsell recorded 15 kills and 39 digs.
“We knew coming in that it was going to be a tough matchup,” Central coach Logan Kemp said. “Their defense was really scrappy. They’re really good at doing all the little things correctly and combined with our hitting errors, that’s not good for us.”
Elaina Vaughn led Central with 16 kills and seven digs. Laiken Hoback had 34 assists and 10 digs, and Alyssa Giles had 20 digs.