By Maurice Patton
“Defending state champions” is a particularly fitting description of Summertown’s volleyball team.
Heading into Tuesday’s Class A state tournament quarterfinal matchup against Meigs County, the Lady Eagles feature nine players that saw extensive time over the course of the 2019 season. That season concluded with a 3-1 title game victory over Watertown as Summertown wrapped up a 39-9 campaign.
“Last year’s team only had one senior,” said veteran coach Andrea Kelly, whose team takes a 31-4 mark into the eight-team tourney. “Everybody playing on the court this year played on it last year, with the exception of a couple of freshmen.
“We’ve got a lot of players that played a lot.”
The fact that they have been there and done that works in the Lady Eagles’ favor as they chase a second straight championship, by Kelly’s estimation.
“This is nothing new for them,” she said. “I think it helps us – but I (also) think it makes it tougher. Everybody’s trying to knock us off.
“It puts pressure on us to prepare ourselves mentally. We have the talent and skill, but can we (execute) the entire tournament.”
In addition to Summertown and Meigs County (18-0), the field for the double-elimination tourney also consists of Union City (15-5), Watertown (33-6), Sale Creek (21-4), Halls (23-7), Loretto (26-10) and South Greene (24-6).
Summertown and Loretto both emerged from District 11-A, with the Lady Eagles sweeping all five regular-season meetings against their Lawrence County rival.
While junior middle hitter Katie Burdette, the 2019 state tournament most valuable player, has been a constant for Summertown this season, senior outside hitter Miya Cole Brown gave her team a lift in the Region 6-A tourney – particularly in the finals, which was the fifth matchup with the Lady Mustangs.
“We struggled with Loretto,” Kelly said. “But Miya Cole was our go-to, in terms of sets. She couldn’t miss. She carried us through that tournament. She was the MVP, and she deserved it.
“It was fun to see her take that leadership role.”
Summertown plays the 9:30 a.m. quarterfinal Tuesday at Stewarts Creek High School in Murfreesboro, with Union City/Watertown following at 12 noon, Sale Creek/Halls at 2:30 p.m. and Loretto/South Greene at 5 p.m.
Semifinals are set for 9:30 a.m. and 12 noon on Wednesday, with elimination games to follow. Thursday will start with a pair of elimination contests, followed by the winners bracket final at 2:30 p.m. and two more elimination games at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Friday’s championship game is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Siegel High School.