The Oak Ridge High School Lady Wildcat Volleyball team secured their 4th consecutive District 4-AAA Tournament Championship at Bearden High School on Thursday night. With their undefeated regular-season District championship, the Lady ‘Cats were afforded an extra night off earning a first-round bye in the tournament. Oak Ridge faced #5 seed, Karns, in the Semifinal match and the Lady Wildcats swept the Lady Beavers in three sets (25-12, 25-15, 25-16) behind the stellar serving of Junior Paige Halcrow who notched 7 Aces against the Beavers to help the ‘Cats counteract some of their own passing errors. After a short break, the Lady Wildcats faced #2 seed, Knoxville West, in the Finals. Oak Ridge defeated West for the third time this year (25-22, 25-12, 25-12) to earn the 2019 District 4-AAA Tournament Championship to accompany their regular season championship. The Lady Wildcats were paced by Ainsley Patrick who delivered 14 Kills against Karns and a career high 23 Kills against West; Paige Halcrow with 43 Assists and 12 Aces, surpassing the 100 Ace mark for the Season; Middle Blocker Ipek Ozcan led with 6 Blocks; and sophomore libero Sydney Ward had 28 Digs. “I’m very happy with the results from tonight,” said Oak Ridge Head Coach Dave Kolodney. “We came in with a purpose, to host the Region round, and didn’t lose sight of that goal.” The District 4-AAA Champion was scheduled to host the Region 2-AAA Tournament, and the Lady ‘Cats delivered. “It wasn’t always the cleanest volleyball we’ve played but we were able to overcome some slow starts and mental lapses to win in straight sets,” continued Kolodney. “That said, this is just the beginning for us. Our goal since July has been to play deep into October and while the regular season set us up well for that, tonight was really just step one.” The Lady Wildcats have two more rounds to complete before reaching their goal of a State Tournament berth. The Region 2-AAA Tournament will be hosted by Oak Ridge on Tuesday and the top two advance to the Sectional round which will take place on Thursday. “We’ll be back in the gym tomorrow morning to prepare for Farragut and work on Step 2: getting through the Region round,” Kolodney finished.
Oak Ridge also collected a number of District awards along with their championship hardware. Kolodney was named Coach of the Year and Junior Middle Blocker Brenna Allred collected Defensive Player of the Year honors. Junior Co-Captains Paige Halcrow and Ainsley Patrick were named Offensive Players of the year. Halcrow was also named to the All-Tournament Team and Patrick was named Tournament MVP. “[Ainsley’s] been a dominant player all year and our ‘go to’ when we need a big moment. That was no different tonight,” Kolodney said of his Junior Outside Hitter. “She had nearly half the team kills including some when we absolutely needed to put the ball away.” Patrick shelled out a devastating 6.2 Kills/Set across both matches. “She was also more vocal than she’s been through much of the year and was instrumental in being able to help lift us out of those mental lapses. It’s no surprise she was named the Tournament MVP,” Kolodney finished.
With the District Championship, Oak Ridge is set to host the Region 2-AAA Tournament next Tuesday at Wildcat Arena. Semifinal matches will be Oak Ridge vs. Farragut and Maryville vs. West (times to be announced). The Region Championship will be immediately following the conclusion of the semifinal matches. Semifinal winners will earn an automatic berth to the Sectional matches on Thursday, facing the top two finishers of Region 1. Oak Ridge improves to an overall 33-4 record.