Not a single player on The King’s Academy volleyball team sat on the bench Tuesday night at Heritage.
All six Lady Lions remained on the court for five sets while taking on District 3-AAA’s William Blount and Heritage. What TKA lacks in numbers, it made up for in grit.
“I feel like I have the team that says, ‘We’re good, we’re going to go play and compete,’” TKA coach Kelly Peterson said. “That’s just who they are.”
The Lady Lions (1-1) defeated William Blount 25-21, 21-25, 25-16 before falling to defending Region 2 champion Heritage 25-16, 25-18.
Heritage (3-0) added a pair of wins, downing Berean Christian, 25-15, 25-19 prior to taking on Lady Lions. William Blount (1-1) bounced back from its loss to TKA with a 25-17, 25-13 victory over Berean Christian (1-2).
Peterson said the Lady Lions benefited from solid performances from Kolbie Greene, Alexa Austin and Lilly Walker.
“They played the way I know they can, so that’s exciting,” Peterson said. “We’ll see if we can continue doing that. No injuries, obviously.”
TKA grabbed the first set against William Blount before the Lady Governors came alive to force a third.
The Lady Lions appeared unfazed by fatigue in the decisive game, jumping out to a 12-4 lead and staying comfortably ahead. However, they appeared to run out of gas in the first set against Heritage before giving the Lady Mountaineers a scare in the second.
Three consecutive missed serves put Heritage in a 17-12 hole, prompting coach Jason Keeble to call a timeout.
“I said, ‘What got us in this situation?’” Keeble said. “I love the way they responded.”
With Zephanie Snyder serving, Heritage went on a nine-point run en route to the win. Kelsey Woods led the team with 14 digs while Snyder served nine points and had nine digs, two aces and four kills.
The Lady Mountaineers are coming off a historic season in which they became the first Blount County volleyball program to reach the Class AAA state tournament. They boast plenty of talent as well as a roster long enough to field three teams, making the loss not terribly hard for the Lady Lions to stomach.
“It’s very encouraging,” Peterson said of TKA’s performance against Heritage. “I have a good team, I know that, but obviously the depth is going to be the issue. But they played hard.”
The Lady Govs are in the process of adjusting to a new coach, Kendra Swafford, who replaced Steve Dallman two weeks before the season.
Swafford said she liked the way her team responded to a tough loss. Abby Cross propelled William Blount to victory over Berean Christian with 18 assists while Jenna Forster contributed 12 digs.
“The first game, we came out a little slow, made some silly mistakes,” Swafford said. “In the second match, we kind of found our groove — started talking a little more, making good passes, making good swings, being smart with the ball and not making service errors ... Now that we’ve played together and had one good match, we know our potential.”