The Siegel volleyball team came up just short of a state tournament berth last season, losing in the Class AAA sectionals.
The Lady Stars made sure that didn’t happen again though, as Siegel cruised past Soddy-Daisy in straight sets 25-14, 25-16, 25-17 during the Class AAA sectionals on Thursday at Siegel High School.
“It was rough last year not getting to go (to state),” Siegel senior Carlton Gay said. “It was really tough going down to Ooltewah and losing in five (sets). We had a really bad experience, so we came out this year expecting to go (and) knowing that we wanted this more than anything.”
The win clinched the team’s fourth Class AAA state tournament berth in five years.
“It means a lot, because last year we didn’t make it,” junior Tori Simmons said about getting back to the state tournament. “That was our goal this year and we accomplished that.”
Simmons, who was a freshman on the Lady Stars’ last state tournament team, is an MTSU commitment and led the squad in aces (three) and kills (13) during the match.
The state tournament will be played next week in Murfreesboro at MTSU, Siegel High and Blackman High on Wednesday through Friday.
“What a team,” Siegel coach Laura Pierce said. “You look out there and you can just see it. They are such a team and they did this for each other. We knew how bitter it was last year and we knew that wasn’t a good feeling when you know you should be at state and you’re not there.
“Our postseason performance is a testament to how bad we wanted to make it to state.”
Siegel is yet to lose a set in the postseason, and that trend continued with its win on Thursday night.
The Lady Stars trailed just once in the entire match and that came early in the second set when Soddy-Daisy edged in front briefly at 3-2.
“Tonight, we came out here and I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that we were going to lose,” Gay said. “We played more as team this past week than we ever have.”
Gay, who finished with seven kills against the Lady Trojans, was also a member of Siegel’s last state tournament team.
“I feel like we played intimidated and scared,” Soddy-Daisy coach Lorri Johnson said. “I’ve just seen us play so much better, and I hate to see us end it this way.”
Siegel junior Jill Morgan, a setter who led the team in digs (eight) and assists (33), said she was proud of the way her team worked together and hustled throughout the 55-minute match.
“I really think we earned this,” Morgan said. “We’ve been working really hard for it and we finally got to state. That’s what we’ve been working for all year.”
Added Pierce, “That’s been our goal all along, to get to state. But we don’t want to stop there either. We want to put a star right here on the map. We want the rest of the state to know we can play some volleyball too.”
Siegel opened the first set with an 8-6 lead and never allowed Soddy-Daisy to get any closer than that. They extended their lead to 18-12 before ending the set on a 6-0 run to win it 25-14.
After trailing for one serve at 3-2 early in the second set, the Lady Stars went on a 9-0 run to take and increase their lead to 11-3 before taking a 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-16 set win.
Siegel withstood a late rally by Soddy-Daisy midway through the third set before clinching the match with a 25-17 win in the final, state-clinching set.