By Charles Pulliam
BRENTWOOD — Despite losing to Brentwood for the third time this season, Destiny Cherry was all smiles Tuesday night.
Cherry and the Summit volleyball team won the match they needed to extend their season by sweeping Dickson County in the Region 6-AAA semifinals. They fell short against the seven-time defending Class AAA champion Lady Bruins in the next match immediately following that semifinal, but they are still assured a shot at reaching the state tournament for the first time.
“Honestly, this feels amazing just to be here,” said the Butler University commit, who had 13 kills and two blocks in the region championship, a 25-20, 25-12, 25-18 loss to Brentwood. “I’m just glad to be here and still be playing.”
Cherry led the attack in a 25-18, 25-18, 25-22 win over the District 11-AAA champion Lady Cougars in the semifinals.
Summit coach Warne Riker said he was proud of how his girls never let up playing in their first region appearance.
“We have a tendency to sometimes let up our guard, but I thought we tried to be consistent and it showed tonight,” said Riker, who has coached the Lady Spartans since the program’s first year in 2011. “This is something this group of seniors has been striving for since the beginning of the season. It was fun to see them scrap out there.”
The Lady Spartans traded points with Brentwood all through the opening set of the region title match. After Brentwood built a slim 19-17 edge, setter Riley Golias flipped a ball to Cherry for a kill down the right side. A Lady Bruin hitting error followed and tied the opening game at 19-19 for the two teams that finished Nos. 1 and 2 in District 12-AAA. A marathon rally came next.
If it wasn’t Summit libero McKenna Davis scooping up huge hits, it was Golias or Rebekah Frey collecting digs. Cherry produced at least three big hits in the rally, but Brentwood was able to find a way to keep it going. The Lady Spartans and Lady Bruins simply battled out the next point to the very end until Summit’s Jenna Holforty finally sent a kill down the left side past the scrambling Lady Bruins defense as the crowd erupted at Brentwood High School.
“That was just electric,” Cherry said. “I had chills the whole time.”
Summit may have won that rally, but Brentwood turned to reigning Tenessee Gatorade Player of the Year Shaye Eggleston to take the set. Eggleston pounded home back-to-back kills for the lead and led the Lady Bruins closed on a 6-0 spurt.
Brentwood carried the momentum into the second set and cruised to the victory in the second set as well. Riker said it was the only game his team let up and didn’t scrap and battle as witnessed in the previous four sets Tuesday.
“We just needed more of those big plays to keep our momentum going,” he said.
Eggleston, who was named the region tournament MVP, closed with 16 kills in the championship match. She also added 15 digs and a pair of blocks.
Brentwood, which swept Hillsboro 25-11, 25-12, 25-19 in the early match Tuesday, will host Lebanon Thursday in a Class AAA sectional match. Summit will travel to Station Camp. The winners will advance to next week’s state tournament, which will be hosted by Siegel High School in Murfreesboro.
Station Camp, the District 10-AAA champs, slipped past Lebanon in five sets Tuesday night for the Region 5-AAA title.
2020 Region 6-AAA Volleyball All-Tournament Team
Brentwood — Shaye Eggleston (MVP), Mary Oldham, Haley Sanders, Sophie Frolich; Summit — McKenna Davis, Destiny Cherry, Keeley Williams; Hillsboro — Hadley Pride, Lee Taylor; Dickson Co. — Hannah Oliver, Anna Kate Humphreys