After Thursday night’s varsity volleyball game you would have thought the Lady Trojans had just won a state championship the way they and their supporters celebrated.
Close. They just beat intra-county rival Ponderosa, 3-0.
“We have so much confidence right now,” said Oak Ridge coach Becky Potter. “Players are starting to rise to the occasion when they need to.”
Indeed, rising above the net at just the right moment definitely helped the Lady Trojans. Great blocking from Haley Simmons, Arden Zuber, Amelia Crye and others limited the Lady Bruins’ top kill producers’ impact. Ponderosa’s Lianna Sybeldon, Lindsey Bowles and Hailey Bellmer got a lot of face-to-face time with Troy’s players at the net.
Oak Ridge opened the first game with six quick points and Ponderosa couldn’t catch up. A Sybeldon kill put the Lady Bruins on the board. Well-placed tips, short and long, contributed to both teams’ scores and Ponderosa got within four but Lady Bruins at the net couldn’t shut down Troy’s offense. The Lady Bruins also gave up several points when their serves and kills sailed beyond the white line.
Oak Ridge picked up the first game 25-16.
The Lady Bruins and Lady Trojans appeared more evenly matched in the second game but the early 5-5 tie quickly turned into a six-point Oak Ridge run thanks, in part, to Ponderosa errors.
Sybeldon and Alex Mettler got the Lady Bruins back in the game but they never got closer than three points behind. Short runs gave Oak Ridge the advantage and momentum. Ponderosa’s frustration continued as they watched Oak Ridge’s kills hit the floor. The Lady Trojans won the second game 25-15.
A thunderous roar in Oak Ridge’s gym kicked off the third game and the Lady Bruins, getting more confident and aggressive on the court, were ready to make the Lady Trojans earn every point.
Troy hopped to an early 3-0 lead. A ceiling shot gave Ponderosa its first point but Simmons got it back when her kill ricocheted out of play off Lady Bruin Ali Lindsey. Each team gave the other a point from out-of-bounds shots and Ponderosa came within two, 5-3, when Simmons served into the net.
On Sybeldon’s serve Zuber set over a sweet tip Bellmer managed to get but the ball hit the floor in an unprotected spot on Ponderosa’s side of the net. A great block from Lady Trojan Alexa Becker made it 7-3. The teams traded kills and a tip war that left every spectator cheering got the Lady Bruins within one, 9-8, when Ponderosa’s Sarah Walker found a hole in the Lady Trojan’s defense.
Oak Ridge responded with three strong kills from Simmons and Mysha Davies. Ponderosa then racked up three points of its own before Troy again pulled away, 14-11. A long rally with a spectacular dig from Crye brought everyone to their feet and Lady Bruins fans loudly cheered when Ponderosa won the point. A mini-rally followed. This time Simmons’ rejection of Mettler’s kill gave one to Troy.
Oak Ridge used that momentum to earn three more and they never looked back. Ponderosa errors contributed to Troy’s score, which jumped to 24-17 before a Simmons block sealed the deal.
The gym erupted as students and parents, many wearing white as part of Oak Ridge’s “White Out,” rushed onto the court. A giant group posed for photos.
After smiling for the camera, Potter said, “I’m just so proud of my girls right now. I’m elated.”