NOLENSVILLE — With one of the state’s traditional powerhouses being noticeably absent from the mix, Tuesday night’s Region 6-AAA volleyball championship felt rather strange.
Then again, maybe this is the new normal.
The Nolensville Lady Knights — newcomers to Class AAA this season after winning back-to-back state titles in Class AA — seem bound and determined to start a new regime in the region.
The Lady Knights certainly made a big splash in their 6-AAA tournament debut, capturing the championship with a four-set victory over Ravenwood. The win represented the latest indication that Nolensville (37-3) is going to make an impact in the region for the foreseeable future.
“It was definitely cool moving up from AA to AAA,” said Nolensville junior Maggie Rickert, who was among the catalysts for the Lady Knights on Thursday. “I think we were kind of the underdogs at first, but I think we are really making a statement that we are a force to be reckoned with.”
Absent from Thursday night’s action was perennial powerhouse Brentwood. The Lady Bruins — who had established a dynasty in Region 6-AAA over the past decade en route to winning eight consecutive state titles — were eliminated from the postseason when they were swept by Nolensville in last week’s District 11-AAA tournament.
Nolensville and Ravenwood (23-13) are both now headed to the Class AAA sectionals. Nolensville earned its ticket by defeating Independence 27-25, 25-22, 24-26, 25-16 in Thursday’s semifinals, and Ravenwood swept District 12-AAA champion Page, 25-23, 25-19, 25-16.
Nolensville head coach Brett Young said he is proud of the way his team has handled the move to a new classification this year.
“They are a resilient bunch,” he said. “Moving from AA to AAA is a big deal. Obviously, AAA volleyball in this state is as good as it gets. But we’ve always tried to schedule up for our non-conference games in past years. We’ve played Brentwood and Ravenwood and all the AAA Williamson County teams to prepare for this.”
In Thursday night’s championship round, Ravenwood took the opener, 25-22, after rallying back from an early 10-4 deficit. Ravenwood’s Reghan Grimes provided the clinching point for the Lady Raptors.
But Nolensville responded by reeling off three straight drama-filled wins — 25-22, 27-25 and 26-24 — to capture the victory. Nolensville’s Maymie Guthrie led the charge for the Lady Knights and was named the tourney’s MVP.
Ravenwood junior Kennedy Riggs, who earned a spot on the All-Tournament team, said the Lady Raptors were just one or two plays away from changing the outcome.
“We played pretty well, but we couldn’t close out the sets,” Riggs said. “We didn’t do a good job of taking care of the little things, and that started to really add up at the end. … But there’s still another chance for us to play (Nolensville) again at state, so hopefully we will be able to do that.”
After winning the opener, Ravenwood raced out to a 14-8 lead in the second set, but Nolensville used a 12-5 run to reverse the momentum, and Kaira Knox ultimately punctuated the win with a kill.
“After losing that first set, we were on the ropes in the second,” said Young. “But the kids really stepped up and played great.”