MURFREESBORO – A combination of Dobyns Bennett’s size and Ravenwood’s poor connections led to an opening round loss for the Lady Raptors at the Class AAA State Volleyball Tournament Tuesday.
Ravenwood will have to battle through consolation, something coach Abbey West’s team has done before, for a shot at playing for a state title.
“We just weren’t clicking this morning," West said after Ravenwood fell 20-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-17 against Dobyns Bennett.
The Lady Raptors led 21-17 late in the first set, but led by the imposing 6-foot-1 senior middle blocker Hannah Watson, Dobyns Bennett pulled within 22-21 before Ravenwood settled back in. Madison Bidwell, this week’s Gateway Tire Female Athlete of the Week, smacked a ball that landed just inside the back line for a 22-20 edge. Ravenwood freshman Reaghan Larkin earned a solo block and sophomore Tanya Sichling followed with an ace before a Dobyns Bennett hitting error ended the set.
In the second set, Ravenwood used a pair of big digs from senior Isabella Huyoung to stay in it late. Bidwell tallied a kill from the left side to pull within 23-22, but Dobyns Bennett recovered.
Ravenwood fell into 19-12 and 22-17 holes in the third set behind Watson and fellow middle blocker Meg Maynor, but the Lady Raptors rallied to pull within 24-23 on a Larkin ace. However, senior setter Rylee Waye of Dobyns Bennett ended the threat with a nifty placed kill from the middle.
“We were struggling to try and find the connection between our setters and our middles and were swinging into the meat of the block instead of high hands," West said. "We really just didn’t do a good job strategically.”
Dobyns Bennett used a couple big blocks from Watson in the third set to overcome an early 6-2 deficit. Watson then slammed down back-to-back kills swinging to her right side off feeds from Waye to give her team the lead for good at 10-8. That advantage stretched to 10 before it was over.
Bidwell paced the Ravenwood attack with 20 kills and Sichling added 13 more. Lepore served three aces and scooped up 28 digs.
Ravenwood, which missed the state tournament last year, battled through the consolation rounds to reach the state championship in 2017.
"We've been here before," West said, referring to 2017's comeback team.
The Lady Raptors will face either Houston or Cookeville in an elimination match scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. start at MTSU’s Murphy Center.