Spring Hill bows out of 9-AA tourney with semifinal loss

By Maurice Patton

NOLENSVILLE — Sarah Derryberry acknowledged her Spring Hill volleyball team was a bit shorthanded for Monday’s District 9-AA Tournament semifinal.

The Lady Raiders coach also acknowledged that it likely wouldn’t have altered her team’s outcome if they had been at full strength for their meeting with defending state titlist Nolensville.

Playing without all-district selection Naomi Naugler and April Park, Spring Hill saw its season come to an end in straight sets – 25-12, 25-7, 25-11 – after advancing to the semis with a five-set win over Marshall County in Saturday’s quarterfinal round.

“Those are my six-footers,” Derryberry said of the two, who were out of action as Maury County Public Schools observe Fall Break this week. “Not that it would have made it any different.

“I think we were ready to play. Nolensville always has a good team, but I think they left it all on the floor.”

Nolensville, which defeated Murfreesboro Central — a semifinal winner over Lawrence County — in four sets for the district championship, wasted little time taking control of its early contest. With a bye through the quarters because of Tullahoma’s COVID pause, the Lady Knights came out roaring with five straight service points by Caroline Johnson for a 6-0 lead to force a Spring Hill timeout.

It was of little help. The hosts steadily pulled away in the opening set, and the following two were nearly mirror images.

“We knew they’d be good,” said Kat Carter, one of the team’s five seniors and an all-district and all-tournament honoree. “We just wanted to come out and not be scared, come in with an aggressive mindset even though they won state last year.

“It wasn’t our best game, but for a really young team this year, I didn’t think we did badly at all.”

Carter and classmate Annabelle Martinez — other Spring Hill seniors include McKynlie Caldwell, Kylie Greene and Gracie Hale — helped spur the Lady Raider defensive effort, Derryberry said.

With Naugler, a sophomore, junior all-tourney pick Kaylie Jefferson and freshman Park returning, Derryberry is optimistic regarding the team’s prospects as this season came to an end.

“There are some little things we could have improved upon,” she said of the Lady Raiders’ final game. “But I couldn’t have asked for much more.”

In other volleyball action involving area teams:

● Culleoka fell in straight sets to Eagleville in the District 6-A tourney semifinals Monday at Community. Eagleville will face the host Viqueens in Tuesday’s championship.

● Sixth-seeded Hampshire upset host Collinwood in four sets Monday to advance in District 11-A tournament play. The Lady Hawks will meet Loretto, a 3-0 quarterfinal winner over Perry County, in Tuesday’s semifinals, while Lewis County will face defending Class A state titlist Summertown after eliminating Mt. Pleasant 3-0.

● Independence moved into a Tuesday semifinal against top-seeded Brentwood with Monday’s District 12-AAA tourney quarterfinal win over Franklin in straight sets. In the other semifinal at Ravenwood, No. 2 seed Summit will face Monday’s Ravenwood/Centennial quarterfinal winner.

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