Rani Patel

Smoky Mountain’s Rani Patel goes to the floor to keep the ball in play in last week’s loss to North Henderson in four sets.

By Carey Phillips


North Henderson defeated Smoky Mountain 25-18, 27-25, 25-14, 21-25 in the Mountain Seven Conference volleyball opener Aug. 31 at the SM gym.

The Lady Knights took a 4-2 lead with four straight points in the first set. They ran off five in a row to go ahead for good at 11-8 and finished the set on a 7-1 spurt.

The Lady Mustangs took control of the second set early but were unable to hang on for the win. Mariella Sheppard served the first six points, including an ace, to go with Kennedy Stewman’s kill and Greenlee Flynn’s block. Stewman served three points for a 9-1 advantage. North cut the gap to 14-10 with four straight points. Another 4-0 run gave the Lady Knights a 22-21 edge, and they clinched the set on their second opportunity.

Stewman served three points, including an ace, and Macy Wike had a pair of kills for a 4-0 SM advantage in set three. The Lady Mustangs maintained the lead throughout. Olivia Rice served the last four points as Flynn had two kills and a block.

North took the lead in the fourth set at 7-3 with four straight points. Six unanswered points put the Lady Knights up 16-12, and they went on to the win.

“We were in the lead in the second set and let a few mishaps bring us down,” Coach Melissa Hill said. “In the third set we did exactly what our game plan was. That was to go and attack and not swing lightly, to be aggressive on everything that we did and play with purpose. We did a good job adjusting to a new lineup very quickly. Everyone did very well. I was pleased with the passing, the setting from Mariella, who played all the way around, and our hitters adjusting to everything that she set.”

Flynn put down 11 kills, and Sheppard handed out 30 assists. Stewman came up with 24 digs, followed by Rice with 14 and Wike with 10.

Stewman and Sheppard both had 12 service points. Stewman served 95 percent. Team serving was 89 percent.

North won the JV match 25-15, 25-20.

“In the second set we had some really good hits and played hard,” Hill said. “We played against a really good North team.”