The Oak Ridge High School Lady Wildcat Volleyball Team sought to avenge their Saturday Finals loss at the Queen of the Mountain tournament when Maryville came to Wildcat Arena Thursday night. The largest crowd of the season turned out to support their Lady Wildcats and they were not disappointed as they witnessed a five-set thriller. The Wildcat fans helped push their team to victory (16-25, 25-18, 22-25, 26-24, 15-12). “This was the biggest win for our team so far this year,” said Oak Ridge Head Coach David Kolodney. “While the two wins against West had immediate District implications, what we were able to do and what I saw from this team tonight goes beyond that.” Oak Ridge started out strong with a 10-2 start in the first set, only to watch that large lead evaporate into a Maryville 23-6 run. The Lady ‘Cats regrouped, made some adjustments, and prepared for the back and forth battle of the second set. “We stayed mentally and physically tough throughout all five sets, which is something you can’t practice, and something this team is not used to playing,” Kolodney continued. Not one rostered Oak Ridge player has previously played in a five-set high school match. “When [Oak Ridge] were down 2 sets to 1 and could have walked away, they didn’t,” continued Kolodney. “They stayed tough right to the end to win 26-24 and carried momentum into the deciding 5th set.” Outside Hitter Ainsley Patrick took nearly half of the swings in the final two sets, driving the ball into the Maryville defense keeping them from being able to effectively set up their offense. “Ainsley was Player of the Match. We needed to be able to score points at particular moments in this match and she came through all night long,” Kolodney said of his Junior Co-Captain. “She served aggressively and Aced them 25% of the time, she accounted for over 40% of our Kills, and she played really good defense picking up 75% of her Digs and had 2 Blocks.” Patrick notched her 2nd double-double of the week, as did Co-Captain Paige Halcrow; Piper Suddeth also achieved a double-double and led the team in Assists (20). Sophomore Sydney Ward led the team in Digs (20) and Junior Brenna Allred led in Blocks (4). “I’m so proud of the work these girls put in to accomplish what they did tonight,” finished Kolodney. “They took a disappointing match on Saturday to heart, learned from what went wrong, and put into effect a successful game plan – I’m so happy for this team and proud of tonight’s effort and result!”
Oak Ridge is slated to participate at the Courtside at Concord Tournament at Concord Christian on Saturday, and returns next week to finish the regular season with three straight matches Monday (Powell), Tuesday (Farragut), and Wednesday (Karns). Oak Ridge improves to 24-3 on the season and remains undefeated in District 4-AAA play (10-0).