When the Lady Rebels step on to the court at Siegel High School on Tuesday, they will accomplish something no other Maryville student has since 1984 — they will be representing their high school in the Class AAA state tournament.
Maryville coach Chris Hames doesn’t think her players will feel any pressure at the eight-team, double-elimination tournament, starting with an opening round matchup with host Seigel (31-6) at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The Lady Rebels (30-4) already shattered preseason expectations when they captured the Region 2-AAA championship and won Thursday’s sectional against Dobyns-Bennett. Any wins in the state tournament would be gravy to what has already been a great season.
“Coming back and winning (the Region 2-AAA championship) against Farragut really put confidence in them,” Hames told The Daily Times. “Coming into (Thursday’s sectional match against Dobyns-Bennett), they played really loose. We controlled outside; we were taking really good swings, so that was really neat to see.
“We are the unknowns. We haven’t been to state since 1984. None of the kids were even alive at that point. I think it will be fun for them, because it’s something that they’ve never experienced and they are going to go into it with the attitude, ‘Hey, we probably aren’t meant to win a match anyway, so let’s go in and leave everything on the floor.”
Hames began watching film of Siegel on Friday and acknowledged the Lady Stars present plenty of challenges. They have two strong outside hitters and a talented middle blocker.
The good news for the Lady Rebels is that they can say the same thing. Kylie Hopkins and Amanda Mack have excelled as outside hitters this season while Maggie Sanderson, Grace Akard and Kiernan Stamey have proven they are adept at blocking.
If the Lady Rebels can consistently run their system, Hames knows her players will have success at the state tournament.
“What we are going to try to do is control our side,” Hames said. “We will have to cover well. They are a decent-sized team. … They will be a good matchup. I think if we come ready to play, I think anyone can beat anyone at the state (tournament).
“If we can fire on all cylinders, be able to set (the ball) where we want and control the first contact, we are hard to beat regardless of who we play. It will be fun.”