Oak Ridge won the District 4-AAA volleyball championship on Tuesday, sweeping Bearden in three straight sets. It’s the second year in a row the girls have won a district championship and the fourth district championship for Oak Ridge in five years.
The District 4-AAA tournament was played in Wildcat Arena at Oak Ridge High School on Tuesday. The Lady Wildcats (24-9, 6-0 District 4-AAA) advanced to the championship game by beating Halls in three straight semifinal sets.
The scores of the Oak Ridge-Halls semifinal sets were 25-14, 25-17, and 25-18.
The scores of the Oak Ridge-Bearden championship sets were 25-12, 25-23, and 25-17.
Lady Wildcat senior Olivia Milloway was named most valuable player of the district tournament. Seniors Emily Lawless and Reagan Dickens were named to the All District Tournament Team.
“I’m just incredibly proud of them,” Oak Ridge Coach Dave Kolodney said of the Lady Wildcats. The girls want to go to the state tournament this season, and they started working to accomplish that on July 10, Kolodney said. They played six great sets during the District 4 tournament, he said.
Bearden played five sets against West in the other District 4-AAA semifinal, and the Lady Bulldogs were “fired up” coming into the final game against Oak Ridge, Kolodney said.
“They (Bearden) made us earn every point,” he said.
But Oak Ridge seniors didn’t want to lose, and that trickled down to the rest of the players, Kolodney said.
He said the Region 2-AAA tournament is at Oak Ridge High School on Tuesday. Oak Ridge, the District 4 champion, and Bearden, the District 4 runner-up, will play. So will the District 3 champion and runner-up. The top two teams from the Region 2 tournament will advance to Class AAA sectionals, which determine who goes to the state tournament.
Besides repeating as district champions this year, the Lady Wildcats were again undefeated in their district, although they moved this year from District 3 to District 4. Besides being undefeated in the district for two years straight, the Lady Wildcats went into the District 3-AAA tournament undefeated in 2014.
Kolodney said the Oak Ridge defense played really well on Tuesday, and the girls had a lot of kills.
“That makes a huge difference,” he said.
Junior Piper Halcrow had some timely kills, especially in the last set, Kolodney said.
“We played really well,” he said.
Here are some Oak Ridge-Bearden championship game statistics compiled by Buzz Patrick:
- Kills—Junior Piper Halcrow, 9; senior Reagan Dickens, 7; senior Olivia Milloway, 6; and freshman Ainsley Patrick, 5.
- Aces—Patrick, 4; Milloway, 3; and Lawless, Piper Halcrow, and freshman Paige Halcrow with 2 each.
- Digs—Paige Halcrow, 8; Lawless and senior JJ Valencia, 6; and Dickens, Milloway, and Piper Halcrow with 5 each.
- Assists—Lawless and Paige Halcrow with 15 each.
Here are Oak Ridge-Halls semifinal statistics by Buzz Patrick:
- Kills—Piper Halcrow, 16; Milloway, 9; Patrick, 4; and Dickens, 3.
- Aces—Patrick, 6; Lawless, 3; and Milloway and Paige Halcrow with 2 each.
- Blocks—Milloway, 3; and Lawless, 2.
- Digs—Paige Halcrow, 13; Milloway, 11; and Lawless and Dickens with 6 each.
- Assists—Lawless and Paige Halcrow with 13 each.
Lawless was named most valuable player in the district this season, and Lawless and Milloway were two of the three offensive players of the year in District 4-AAA. Kolodney was named District 4 coach of the year.
Lawless said the Lady Wildcats have a group of seniors that mostly went to middle school together and have played together for a while. They’ve helped win the district championship in three of the past four years.
“It really means a lot because it shows how well we work together and how close we are as a team,” Lawless said.
She said she was proud to be named district MVP.
“I didn’t expect that at all,” Lawless said.
Asked about her performance this season, she said she was 11th in the state for aces and was number one earlier this year. And she thinks she might have been 10th in the state for assists.
Milloway said the Lady Wildcats have been “really blessed” with a good core of five seniors, including three who played varsity volleyball all four years.
They had a good coach several years ago with Carmen Foster, and then Kolodney came in strong after Foster, Milloway said.
Milloway doesn’t plan to play volleyball in college because of knee injuries, and she said being named district tournament MVP on Tuesday was validating for her.
“My four years have gone for something,” she said.
The team’s goal is to go to state this year, she said.
“I think that goal is truly attainable,” Milloway said. “I honestly think this year we can make it.”
Dickens said Oak Ridge has always had a strong team.
Four of the five seniors this year have played together since seventh grade, Dickens said.
“This year, we’ve meshed really well,” she said. “We’re just very comfortable around each other.”
This year’s All District Team included Dickens, Lawless, Milloway, and junior Piper Halcrow. Honorable mention went to freshman Paige Halcrow, freshman Ainsley Patrick, and senior JJ Valencia.
The semifinal match against Halls in the district tournament on Tuesday was a rematch of a September 19 regular-season game against the Lady Red Devils. Oak Ridge won in three sets in that game to go undefeated in District 4-AAA (6-0) during the regular season and become the regular-season district champion, as well as the top seed in the district tournament. That gave them a bye in the first round.
Milloway had 13 kills during that regular-season game against Halls. She also had two blocks and seven digs.
“She always plays well, but she elevated her play tonight,” Kolodney said after that September 19 game against Halls.
It was Senior Night, and seniors played the whole first set, Kolodney said.
“It was great night overall,” he said. “This team is something special. Week in and week out, they show it.”
Patrick’s serves made a huge difference, Kolodney said, helping to open a nice lead for Oak Ridge.
Lawless had 25 assists in that game. Coming into that last district game of the regular season, Lawless was ace and assists leader, while Milloway was kills leader and co-leader in blocks. At that time, Dickens was the other co-leader in blocks.
- Kills—Milloway, 13; Dickens, 7; Piper Halcrow, 6; and Patrick, 5.
- Aces—Patrick, 5; and senior Rachel Clement, 2.
- Blocks—Milloway, 2.
- Digs—Milloway, 7; Valencia, 6; and Dickens, Piper Halcrow, and Paige Halcrow with 5 each.
- Assists—Lawless, 25; and Paige Halcrow, 7.
Here are stats and comments from Kolodney from other games between the two Halls games.
At Hardin Valley on September 20, a 3-0 loss
The 14th-ranked Oak Ridge High School volleyball team’s 14-game win streak came to an end that Wednesday night as they lost to number three Hardin Valley Academy in straight sets.
“I’m proud of the effort my girls put forth tonight,” Kolodney said. “We went up against a very strong HVA team and didn’t back down. You don’t get to be third in the state for no reason, and Hardin Valley deserves it. While that can sometimes intimidate a team, our girls didn’t let it bother them.”
The Lady ‘Cats made some good runs in each set and improved the score from set to set.
“We’re ramping up our run through the playoffs, and this was a great match to get that started,” Kolodney said. The Lady Wildcats dropped to 21-5 (6-0 district) from this non-conference match-up, and they faced two more non-conference foes prior to the district tournament on Tuesday, October 3.
Here are stats from the game.
At Farragut on September 28, a 3-0 loss
The 13th-ranked Oak Ridge Lady Wildcat volleyball team dropped a match to Farragut in three straight sets on that Thursday night.
“No team likes to have losing streaks, and tonight was our third in a row,” Kolodney said. “But if there’s such thing as a good loss, then this was it. We started slowly in the first set, but got better and better throughout the match all while using a brand new lineup.”
That Wildcat road losing streak was against non-district foes.
“The things we talked about after our Heritage match (on September 25) were much better tonight, and we’ll learn from this and get better too,” Kolodney said. “Tonight, we took a good Farragut team to 30-28 in the third, so we know we can win. We just have to put together the right match.”
The Wildcat’s closed their regular season head-to-head match-ups with this loss and went on to participate in their final tournament on Saturday, September 30, hosted by Concord Christian.
Here are stats from the game.
Courtside at Concord Tournament on September 30
The 15th-ranked Oak Ridge Lady Wildcat volleyball team finished 1-2 in the Courtside at Concord Tournament at Concord Christian. Oak Ridge lost 2-1 to Signal Mountain and 2-0 to Concord Christian, but beat Heritage 2-1.
“We played well, just not well enough to get the job done,” Kolodney said, referring to the losses to Signal Mountain and Concord Christian. The ‘Cats previously faced Signal Mountain at the Showdown at the Sunsphere Tournament and beat them in a close three-set match. At Concord, the Lady Eagles edged the Lady ‘Cats in a similarly close match.
Oak Ridge dropped a two-set match to the host Concord Christian, but was able to avenge the earlier loss to Heritage.
“We are looking forward to districts and the run to the state tournament,” Kolodney said. “These next few weeks are what we’ve been working for since July, and the girls are primed and ready.”
Here are stats from the Heritage game.
Here were the final regular season District 4-AAA standings:
- Oak Ridge (6-0)
- Bearden (5-1)
- West (4-2)
- Halls (3-3)
- Campbell County (2-4)
- Karns (1-5)
- Powell (0-6)
Here are the current stats by player:
- Kills—Piper Halcrow, 198; Milloway, 194; Patrick, 174; Dickens, 106; and Lawless, 83.
- Aces—Patrick, 76; Lawless, 72; Milloway, 48; Dickens, 40; Piper Halcrow, 37; and Paige Halcrow, 31.
- Blocks—Milloway, 41; Dickens, 37; and Piper Halcrow, 35.
- Digs—Piper Halcrow, 228; Lawless, 215; Milloway, 186; Dickens, 183; Paige Halcrow, 151; and Valencia, 121.
Here is coverage of the previous three district championships: a win over Anderson County in three close sets in District 3 in 2016, a loss to Anderson County in four sets in District 3 in 2015, and a win over Anderson County in four sets in 2014.
District 4 this year includes Bearden, Campbell County, Halls, Karns, Oak Ridge, Powell, and West.
District 3 last year included Anderson County, Campbell County, Central, Clinton, Gibbs, Halls, Karns, Oak Ridge, and Powell.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See our earlier season story here.
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