By Keeli Parkey
The first week of competition was a busy, but beneficial one for the Unicoi County High School Lady Devil volleyball team.
“Overall, it was a tiring week but a good introduction to the season as well as feedback for skills we need to work on this week,” first-year head coach LeAnn Lane told The Erwin Record.
The Lady Devil varsity squad wrapped up action last week on Saturday, Aug. 20, in the Elizabethton Cyclones Invitational. Playing the best two of three, UCHS opened the day with a loss to the host Lady Cyclones in two sets (10-25, 15-25). Next up on Saturday was Greeneville High School, a team the Lady Devils had faced earlier in the week. Again, the Lady Devils fell in two sets (17-25, 16-25).
The Lady Devils took their only win of the day on Saturday over McNewin in two sets (25-20, 25-21), then lost the final match of the day to South Greene in two sets (14-25, 10-25).
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The Lady Devils earned their first varsity win and Three Rivers Conference win of the season on Friday, Aug. 19. Facing Happy Valley at UCHS, the varsity squad earned a commanding three-set victory over the Lady Warriors (25-2, 25-6, 25-8).
Friday also saw the Lady Devil freshmen defeat Happy Valley’s junior varsity in two sets (25-8, 25-10).
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Regional foe Chuckey-Doak traveled to Erwin to face the Lady Devils on Thursday, Aug. 18. In junior varsity action, the Lady Devils defeated the Lady Black Knights in two sets (25-15, 25-10).
UCHS wasn’t able to get the sweep of Chuckey-Doak in varsity action, but the Lady Devils put up a battle. After losing the first set (8-25), the Lady Devils came out strong in the second set, taking a 7-1 lead and controlling that set for a 25-15 victory.
In the third set, the Lady Devils and Lady Black Knights battled back and forth early. UCHS held an 11-10 lead before Chuckey-Doak rattled off 11 consecutive points to take a commanding 21-11 lead on their way to a 25-18 victory in the third set. The fourth set played out much like the third, with the Lady Devils holding a 14-12 lead before the Lady Black Knights went on a run to take a 19-14 lead. UCHS kept fighting and didn’t give up, down 22-17, the Lady Devils then scored several points to stay in the match; however, Chuckey-Doak was able to hold on for the 25-20 set and match victory.
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Against Daniel Boone on Wednesday, Aug. 17, the Lady Devils showcased what they can do, according to Lane.
“Last week was a rough first week for us,” Lane said. “It was the first week of matches and competition so it was a test to see how we measure up to the other teams in the area.
I was really pleased with how we played against Daniel Boone, a team in the conference above us.”
UCHS got off to a slow start against the Lady Trailblazers, dropping the first two sets (16-25, 18-25). The Lady Devils rallied in the third set and won it (25-23) before dropping the fourth set (6-25) and losing the match.
“It took us the first two games to catch up to (Boone’s) level and game speed, but by the third game, we had made changes in both our mentality and our reaction to their offense to take the third game and play at the competitive level that we need to play at against teams in our conference,” Lane said. “Now that the team knows what they are capable of, that’s the level of play we will now strive for.”
Also against Boone, the Lady Devil freshmen lost a close three-set match (25-23, 24-26 and 7-15). The junior varsity bounced back after losing the first set to win the match in three (22-25, 27-25, 15-13).
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The Lady Devils opened the season with a loss in the varsity match to Greeneville in varsity (20-25, 21-25, 19-25) and junior varsity action (17-25, 25-17, 7-15) at UCHS on Tuesday, Aug. 16.
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The Lady Devils were scheduled to travel to Sullivan East on Tuesday, Aug. 23, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline.
They are scheduled to travel to Sullivan Central on Wednesday, Aug. 24, when the freshmen team will begin play at 4 p.m. with junior varsity and varsity action to follow
They will stay on the road on Thursday, Aug. 25, with a trip to Sullivan North. The freshmen team will again play first with a match set to begin at 4:30 p.m. Junior varsity and varsity action will again follow
UCHS will end the week in the Thrill on the Hill junior varsity tournament at Science Hill High School in Johnson City.