In the game’s most critical stage, the Tate Aggies found themselves Tuesday in a difficult position.
They were on the road. Host Navarre High had its students screaming, doing all they could to further rattle. Emotion and momentum had shifted. It was now a final set to determine season fate.
Senior Hope Tourney stepped forward, took charge in the same way she did in the season. It led to the Aggies scoring the final four points, winning the tiebreaker set 15-11 and advancing into Thursday’s tournament championship in the District 1-7A Volleyball Tournament at Navarre.
“Her energy… she shines in the game,” said Tate High Erika Burkett, whose team improved to 16-10 overall “So it kinda just helps us out. We’ve been looking for her all season long. She is our go-to player.”
She went strong under pressure Tuesday. She finished with 13 kills, two blocks, three serve aces and 13 digs.
“(Tourney) is going to college. She is going to play somewhere,” Burkett said.
The Aggies had split the first two sets, won the third and were leading 10-4 in the fourth set when Navarre scored 16 of the next 17 points. The Raiders forced a deciding set with their 25-18 win.
“Navarre always plays well in their gym,” said Burkett, whose team beat the Raiders in both regular season games. “It kinda teaches us that we have to stay focused all the way to the end.
“I think we just weren’t focused. I think it was our serve-receive that was struggling there for a minute. and we had to change it up some to get the ball back and just go with it until the fifth set.”
The win sends Tate into Thursday’s tourney title game at Navarre against Niceville. The Aggies lost both regular-season meetings. They have a chance to win a district tournament for the first in a long while, at least as far as Burkett can recall.
“We have been second a lot,” she said.
Kasey Scott, the daughter of University of West Florida athletic director Dave Scott, had the deciding kill to win the tiebreaker set and ignite a celebration with Tate teammates.
“This gives you some momentum going into Thursday,” Burkett said. “They know they have to fight to the end. There have been a couple games this year where they have learned that.”
In the tiebreaker set, there were three lead changes and eight ties until an 11-11 score was broken by Tate’s final surge.
“They just wanted to win badly, so that was exciting to see,” Burkett said.
DISTRICT 1-7A Tournament
Tate def. Navarre 3-2
18-25, 25-18 25-19,18-25,15-11.
TATE (16-10) STATS: Brianna Payne 3 kills, 8 blocks, 3 digs; Casey Wright 37 assists, 2 aces, 19 digs; Deja Smith 6 kills, 7 blocks, 3 digs. Hope Tourney 13 kills, 2 blocks, 3 aces, 13 digs. Kasey Scott 3 kills, 8 blocks, 1 ace, 6 digs; Kayla Underwood 14 digs. Kristin Quina 27 digs. Sydney Poberson 10 kills, 2 blocks, 13 digs. Titiana Smith 1 kill.
WANT TO GO?
WHAT:District 1-7A Tournament Final
WHO: Niceville vs. Tate.
WHEN: Thursday, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Navarre High Gymnasium.