MURFREESBORO — Webb School of Knoxville came home with its fifth consecutive Division II-A state volleyball championship recently. The Lady Spartans wasted little time earning the title Thursday, Oct. 19.
It took Webb just an hour to complete a 25-11, 25-10, 25-14 sweep of Harding Academy at Middle Tennessee State University’s Murphy Center. It was the Lady Spartans’ sixth consecutive championship game appearance.
“We knew coming in that we were one of the best teams in Tennessee and we knew that we wanted to win another state championship,” Lady Spartans head coach Chris Hames said. “It’s been a great ride for these seniors who came here five years ago [when they were in eighth grade]. They’ve won five in a row and I’m really proud of them. I’m excited for them.
“I’m happy for them, but we have a good group of freshmen coming in and I’m really excited for them, too,” she added.
The Lady Spartans trailed early in the first and third sets. But they were able to seize control of each game fairly easily.
In the first game, the Lady Lions [32-16] held a 3-2 edge before a Webb side-out knotted things up. Freshman outside hitter Jordan Sandberg then served up a pair of points to give the perennial state champions a 5-3 lead.
Harding would pull to within 5-4 before a side-out allowed the Lady Spartans to regain their two-point advantage.
Senior Nicklin Hames then took the ball and scored eight consecutive service points to give the Lady Spartans a 14-4 lead. From there, Webb would cruise and claim the opening set easily.
In Game 2, Webb [33-7] never trailed. The Lady Lions did manage to tie the set 6-6 before the Lady Spartans opened leads of 11-6, 18-7 and 24-9 before taking a commanding 2-0 advantage in the match.
Harding opened a modest 5-4 lead before the Lady Spartans took the lead for good when Nicklin Hames scored after Webb earned a side-out to make the it 6-5.
The Lady Lions would pull even one more time [6-6] before the Lady Spartans would score five straight to make the score 11-6. On that run, senior Meredith Wallace scored four points and served up a pair of aces.
Harding Academy, which has posted three consecutive runner-up finishes, never came any closer.
Nicklin Hames earned tournament Most Valuable Player Honors, finishing the match with 11 kills, 17 assists and seven digs.
Her sister, junior outside hitter Kayleigh Hames, had 13 kills, six digs and a pair of aces.
Haley Jenkins finished the match with 19 assists, eight digs and six aces while Wallace added 11 kills, five digs and four aces.
Nicklin Hames said Webb’s latest state championship was big for herself and her teammates.
“We’ve grown up together and we’ve played together,” she said. “We’re a family and it’s important for us to win this during our senior year.
“It’s been a pleasure to play with our younger girls and leading them this year,” she added.
Lauren Deaton had eight kills to lead Harding Academy’s hitting attack.