John Tyler won two marathon matches, stating its case for top volleyball team in the county for one evening.
Jennifer McGowan enjoyed a career-night, hammering down 38 kills as JT survived five-game matches against Lindale and Robert E. Lee in a tri-mach Tuesday at the Lions Den.
The three matches lasted just shy of six hours, with McGowan putting an exclamation point on the festivities with a final kill as JT defeated Lee 25-19, 22-25, 25-15, 18-25, 15-9. JT (17-8) beat Lindale 25-18, 16-25, 25-11, 19-25, 17-15.
“She is our leader, our captain,” JT coach Stephanie March-Smith said of McGowan. “She’s our go-to player. She’s stepping up.”
Lee (16-10) claimed the middle match over Lindale 23-25, 24-26, 25-17, 25-21, 15-12.
McGowan knocked down four kills and two blocks as JT jumped ahead by as many as 11 points in the first game.
Lee staved off five game points before Quaneshia Johnson blocked a shot to end the set.
Four different Lee players provided three kills in the second game — Kalloway Hudson, Mallory Kuechle, Rachel Johnston and Kenshai Moseley — as the Lady Raiders evened the match at one game apiece. JT scored the first four points of the third game and never trailed, thanks to a handful of kills from McGowan and two each from Breanna Choice, Kashanti Flowers and Amicia Williams.
Lee logged eight straight points in the fourth game to claim a 17-9 cushion and push it to a decisive game. After Lee scored the first point, JT responded with the next five and never looked back.
Johnson passed for 41 assists in the victory. The junior setter distributed the balls evenly to the likes of McGowan (20 kills, six blocks), Williams (13 kills), Flowers (seven kills) and Erica Franklin (six kills, 14 digs).
Varsity newcomer Amanda Theaker topped the JT defense with 24 digs.
Kuechle paced Lee with 14 kills.
“She’s everywhere and can play some defense,” March-Smith said of Theaker. “I hadn’t beat them in a long time so I’m happy.”
Lee stormed back to take the final three games after falling down 2-0.
After losing twice by the minimum margin, Lee controlled the third and fourth games to set up a decisive set.
The teams matched one another until Lee gained some breathing room on Kuechle’s ace for a two-point lead, and again on a Lindale service error to bring up game-point. Rebekah Bowden recorded a kill for the finisher as Lee prevailed.
McGowan stamped her mark on a back-and-forth match from jump, totaling 18 kills, six blocks and six service aces. The senior hitter hammered down four kills in the decisive game.
JT tallied the final three points, tying it on a Lindale sideout. Flowers blocked a Lindale attack, and Franklin finished the match with a kill.
Franklin (four kills, 19 digs, two aces), Johnson (three kills, 34 assists, two blocks, two aces), Williams (eight kills) and Flowers (four kills, three blocks) fueled JT’s attack. Hannah Wyatt (13 kills, two aces), Zhanelle Geathers (nine kills), Hannah Brown (seven kills) and Savannah Cantrell (six kills) powered Lindale’s attack, with Regan Daugherty (36 assists) providing the passes.
“It’s great to go in district with the win, but it’s not district,” said March-Smith, whose team starts District 14-4A play Friday at Jacksonville. “We have to be ready to play because our district is solid.”