Move over, fall break. Make a place for the fall sports postseason.
Well, for soccer at least. Volleyball began tournament play a week ago, with South Greene and Greeneville both adding another district championship plaque to their trophy cases.
This week, the Chuckey-Doak and Greeneville soccer teams put their district tournament championship streaks on the line. The Lady Devils host a District 1-2A semifinal Tuesday night before Thursday’s championship match, while Chuckey-Doak has earned a semifinal bye into Thursday’s District 1-A championship at Anna S. Ricker Soccer Field.
Meanwhile, on Rebel Hill, South Greene aims for its fourth straight Region 1-A volleyball crown tonight, while North Greene looks for not only a region title rematch but another trip to the Class A Sectional. The Lady Huskies play District 2-A champion Gatlinburg-Pittman for that right.
Greeneville’s journey takes it to Sullivan East for tonight’s Region 1-2A semifinals and championship. The Lady Devils play Tennessee High for survival in the semifinal round.
FIGHT FOR FIVE
University High has fared more evenly during the regular seasons. But the District 1-A tournament has belonged entirely to Chuckey-Doak. The Lady Black Knights haven’t lost a district tournament game since finishing runner-up in the 2016 District 2-A/2A championship. They’ve won four straight District 1-A crowns since then, starting with their Class A state tournament run in 2017.
Since going 0-3 at the Smoky Mountain Cup, Chuckey-Doak (12-3-1) has gone on an 11-match unbeaten streak. The only blemish during that run — a 2-2 draw at University High.
The Lady Black Knights left no doubt in the rematch, posting a 3-0 win at Afton on Oct. 5. That win clinched a spot in Thursday’s District 1-A championship game against the winner of tonight’s semifinal between No. 2 seed University and No. 3 West Greene at Winged Deer Park. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.
West Greene’s latest trip to Johnson City on Sept. 28 resulted in a 9-0 loss to the Buccaneers, who also defeated the Lady Buffs in the 2018 district semifinals.
All 12 of Chuckey-Doak’s victories this year have been by shutout, courtesy of senior goalkeeper Breanna Roberts, who had eight saves against University on Oct. 5. Chuckey-Doak’s back line of Niome Merrill, Tavyn Southerland, Kalee Delotto and Hope Rice have consistently drawn coach Anna Ricker’s praise this fall. Not just them, but defensive mids Sarah Wright and Bailea Gilland have played a role, too.
“Very few things get to the defense because of them,” Ricker said. “Our defense definitely has improved, even since the tie (with University).”
Marci Merrill, meanwhile, has been a scoring machine for the Lady Black Knights. The two-time All-State selection has scored 34 goals in 16 matches this season, two against University last week.
Aviah Campbell and Faith Rice have also played a big part in Chuckey-Doak’s scoring this season.
The Lady Black Knights host West Greene or University at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night.
DEVIL OF A TIME
Don’t let Greeneville’s 9-8 record fool you. None of those losses have come to Class 2A schools.
The two-time defending 2A state champion Lady Devils ran roughshod through District 1-2A play. Only one conference rival found the back of the net against Greeneville this regular season. Even then, it didn’t come until the second half of the Lady Devils’ 8-1 win at Elizabethton.
No. 2 seed Tennessee High gave GHS its toughest district match, a 5-0 Greeneville triumph at Bristol.
The Lady Devils haven’t played since Sept. 28, as weather halted their Oct. 7 match at Hardin Valley. Greeneville has won four of its last five matches, all against conference rivals. Three of those wins were 9-0 decisions — over Unicoi County, Sullivan East and Volunteer — sandwiched around a 2-0 loss at 3A power Science Hill.
Naturally, the Lady Devils have practiced and scrimmaged as much as possible the past two weeks.
“We’ll be fresh, but we don’t want to be rusty,” GHS coach Jerry Graham said. “We’ve played a lot of tough games this year to work on some things. Our back line has improved, especially on communication. Passing lanes and movement off the ball have improved in our final third, too.”
Sophomore striker Anna Shaw leads Greeneville with 19 goals and three assists. Senior forward Delana DeBusk isn’t far behind with her 12 goals and seven helpers. Annemarie Konieczny has a team-high 11 assists along with eight goals. DeBusk and fellow senior Olivia Norris, a defender, both earned All-State honors last year.
For tonight’s District 1-2A semifinal round, Greeneville entertains Volunteer at Fox Field for a 6 p.m. start. The Lady Falcons defeated Sullivan East on penalty kicks Monday.
With a win, Greeneville will also host Thursday’s district championship match. The Lady Devils’ string of district tournament titles dates back to their Class 3A days, before the TSSAA’s 2009 realignment.
Not since 2017 has South Greene (34-3) come up short in the Region 1-A tournament. The Lady Rebels have won three straight since then.
District 1-A Player of the Year and Tournament MVP Addison Williams, South Greene’s newest homecoming queen and a 2020 All-State selection, looks to finish her career 8-0 in region play.
Not surprisingly, two-time All-State honoree Sydney Gentry earned District 1-A Setter of the Year accolades. Hitter of the Year Jordyn Roderick and Newcomer of the Year Ava Clark look to guide the Lady Rebels past Cosby in today’s Region 1-A semifinals before tonight’s championship, which will follow North Greene’s semifinal with Gatlinburg-Pittman. South Greene won last year’s region semifinal meeting with Cosby in straight sets.
North Greene (18-13) has finished runner-up in the last two District 1-A tournaments, but the Lady Huskies responded in last year’s Region 1-A semifinal round with a straight-set win over Gatlinburg-Pittman before falling at Meigs County in the Class A Sectional.
The Lady Huskies’ had two players earn District 1-A superlatives — Defensive Player of the Year Kylie Keffer and Server of the Year Hailee English.
Greeneville (23-8), the defending Region 1-2A tournament champion, opens its title defense against Tennessee High in tonight’s semifinals at Sullivan East. The championship match takes place immediately afterward. Tennessee High won a 2-1 decision over Greeneville at the Mountain Empire Classic earlier this year.
The Lady Devils have won six of their last eight matches, sweeping Grainger twice for the district crown. District 2-2A Setter of the Year and Tournament MVP Eden Aiken has already surpassed 1,000 career assists. District Player of the Year Chloe Marsh and Blocker of the Year Lauren Bailey look to spearhead another state tournament run after last year’s fourth-place finish.
Both region volleyball tournaments are set for 4:30 p.m. starts, with the Class A and 2A Sectional rounds taking place Thursday.