By Maurice Patton
MURFREESBORO — Summertown adjusted to Loretto’s adjustments and returned to the Class A volleyball state tournament championship game with a five-set victory in Thursday’s winners bracket final at Stewarts Creek High School.
The Lady Eagles (34-4) will play for their second consecutive title at 10 a.m. Friday morning at Siegel High School, as they will face Loretto yet again
“Loretto played amazing,” Summertown coach Andrea Kelly said. “This was the sixth time we’ve played, and they’ve gotten better and better every time we’ve played. They wanted it more than we did in (Games 3 and 4).
“We squeezed that one out.”
With five previous wins in as many meetings thus far this season, Summertown got off to another strong start Thursday against its Lawrence County and District 11-A rival, as Miya Cole Brown recorded eight straight service points to overcome an early deficit en route to a 25-11 victory in the opening set.
Loretto (28-11) narrowed the margin in the second set, leading 9-6 early before falling 25-20.
The Lady Mustangs found some momentum, though, controlling the action in an eventual 26-24 third set.
“We had to adjust on a couple of thier bigger hitters,” Loretto coach Nick Quillen said, referring to Katie Burdette in the middle and Brown on the outside. “After that, it’s about who can hustle more, who can scrap more and make the fewer errors.”
The defensive tweaks helped Loretto to a 25-17 win to force the decisive fifth set.
And as Brown helped spark things early, she did so again late.
“They were ‘single-blocking’ on us,” Kelly said. “Miya Cole happens to be the one out there. She’s been playing amazing the last two weeks. We told our setter, feed her until they put another blocker up there.
“Katie, what she gave us most was her blocking. They were blocking her on offense; she had to adjust her hits.”
Brown finished with a team-high 23 kills, with Burdette — last year’s tournament MVP — adding 21.
“At the region tournament, they changed their game plan and adjusted to the middle, with Katie in there,” Brown said. “I knew I had to pull through. As a senior, as team captain, I felt that was my role.”
Sale Creek defeated Watertown in five games to advance to Thursday’s losers bracket final Loretto. The Lady Mustangs went five games for the second time before claiming their title game berth.
“Every time we’ve played them, we’ve pushed them a little more,” Quillen said of Summertown. “We just couldn’t finish at the end. We’ve got to jump on them a little quicker and finish strong at the end.”