The Maryville volleyball team entered Tuesday’s matchup against Hardin Valley with a chip on its shoulder.
After falling to the Hawks in the regular season, the Lady Rebels had their shot at evening the score in the second round of the District 3-AAA Tournament.
“There’s a lot more weight on our shoulders, especially because it’s a district tournament,” Maryville senior Meg Mersman said. “We just knew that we had to win. I said before the match, ‘We’ve got to play every point like it’s the championship point,’ so I think that’s what we did.”
No. 3 Maryville defeated No. 2 Hardin Valley 25-16, 26-24, 22-25, 25-14 at William Blount.
The Lady Rebels will play No. 5 Farragut, which defeated No. 1 Heritage 20-25, 26-24, 18-25, 25-22, 15-13 in a match that lasted almost three hours.
The winner of tonight’s match between Maryville and Farragut — slated for 7 p.m. at Hardin Valley — will earn a spot in the championship.
“This is a huge win,” Maryville senior Miranda Wyatt said. “Now we can keep going.
We don’t have to worry about having another loss — trying to stay in — we can just ride from here.”
Mersman led the Lady Rebels with 16 kills, seven solo blocks and five aces while Wyatt contributed 19 assists.
After taking the first set, Maryville came out flat in the second. The Lady Rebels overcame a 9-0 deficit en route to a win. They were playing from behind until the final three points.
“The girls overcame their mistakes and they just kept battling,” coach Angel Babelay said. “They focused on the next point and they just finished it out.”
Wyatt attributed the Lady Rebels’ struggles early in that set to lack of communication.
“We weren’t working together at all,” Wyatt said. “Once we huddled and figured out what we were doing wrong, we clicked.”
Hardin Valley took the next set, and Maryville responded in a big way. The Lady Rebels never trailed in the fourth set. Delaney White scored the winning point and finished with four kills and 12 assists.
Maryville fell to Farragut during the regular season. Mersman said this Maryville team isn’t the same as that one.
“We realized it was the little stuff that was getting to us,” Mersman said. “We just had to pass better, execute and outwork them.”
Farragut won its first match over Heritage since 2017.
On Sept. 24, Heritage defeated Farragut in five sets to claim a share of the regular-season district title. The Lady Mountaineers also defeated Farragut last season in the district and region tournaments.
“They’re a phenomenal team,” Farragut coach Susan Davidson said. “I feel like we’re just two really good teams that scrap and grind. You get to the fifth set, and it comes down to the team with the least amount of errors in the moment.”
Sophomore middle hitters Ellie Ackermann and Meg Frank sparked Farragut. Ackermann had 16 kills while Frank added 11.
Emma Whitehead led the way for Heritage with 24 kills and 17 assists while Kaitlyn Wilkerson had 48 assists, 18 digs and 13 points.
“We had numerous chances to kind of close it out, and then we didn’t do it,” Heritage coach Jason Keeble said. “We’ve had targets on our backs the last two years, so were going to get everybody’s best.”
Heritage got off to slow start against the Admirals, who jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first set before the Lady Mountaineers rallied for the victory.
They played from behind again in the second set. Trailing 21-13, Heritage went on a 9-1 run that tied the score for the first time.
An Ackerman kill gave Farragut a 25-24 edge before she and Alexis Cosey blocked a shot by Zephanie Snyder for the win.
“I think we should have had that second set whenever we tied it,” Keeble said. “We made a couple errors. At this point, players have to make plays when it counts. … The way we did come back shows some mental toughness.”
Lauren Loveday scored the winning point in the final set, slamming a shot into the right back corner.
Heritage will play South-Doyle at 5:30 p.m. in the loser’s bracket, and the winner of that match will play William Blount afterward.
“With the way the tournament is set up, we still have a shot,” Keeble said. “It’s just going to be a little bit harder.”