Farragut tuning up at Early Bird

It was a powerhouse volleyball program starting with a “B” — Baylor, not Brentwood — that ended Farragut’s hopes during annual Early Bird Tournament.

It was a District 4-AAA rival pulling an upset against the Lady Admirals that did not start with a “B,” as in Bearden. Instead, Maryville upset the two-time defending Class AAA state runner-up program in pool play.

Against Baylor, Division II-AA state runner-up last year, “We played a good [match] against them, they just had some pieces that were really, really good,” senior libero Madi Howell, an All-state and AAU All-American honoree, said after a 25-18, 25-22 loss in Early Bird Gold Bracket [highest quality bracket] quarterfinals Saturday evening, Aug. 20, at Knoxville Christian School.

“We’re not on top of our game yet, it’s still the beginning of the season,” Howell added. “We’re going to continue to grow and get better and work on our weaknesses.”

“Baylor, they’re a great team, all respect to them. Great coach, great players,” Alexis Parker, senior All-state and AAU All-American outside hitter, said. “It’s always a hard-fought match. We had our ups and downs.

“I can’t wait to play them again, it’s always fun to play them. I think they’re going to be in a Kentucky tournament we’re going to be in,” Parker added.

“We’re younger in a couple of positions, but they’ve grown a lot this weekend,” FHS head coach Susan Davidson said. “I’m proud of the fight against Baylor. We’ve had a long weekend.”

Given the high caliber of competition annually with Early Bird, “We’ve always said you learn more from your losses because you really go back and study it and say, ‘what can I do better?’” Davidson added.

With Early Bird action beginning Friday evening, Aug. 19, at four others locations in addition to KCS, Farragut racked up

two tourney victories against Ravenwood and one each versus Franklin, Walker Valley, Soddy-Daisy and Gibbs.

The Lady Admirals entered the week 7-2.

Against Maryville, “I think that was one of those kinds of [matches] where it was just a bad [match] in general,” Parker said.

“Maryville, with their transfers, has a different look this year,” Davidson said.

As for areas of improvement, “I think communication’s a big one, especially against some of those great teams like Baylor,” senior middle hitter Anne Abernathy, a 2015 All-Region 2-AAA honoree, said. “We just really have to kind of dig deep and play together and communicate a little better on the court.”