Rye Cove (12-11) has won 31 Cumberland District volleyball titles in 35 years, including six in the past seven years.
On Tuesday, the third-seed Lady Eagles gave themselves a shot at another district trophy with a 25-19, 25-23, 20-25, 15-25, 15-12 win over second-seeded Thomas Walker (14-7) in the Cumberland tournament semifinals at Eastside.
Rye Cove advanced to Thursday’s 8:30 p.m. district championship match against host and top-seeded Eastside, which won the regular-season championship. The Lady Spartans (18-4) reached the final with a 25-22, 26-28, 25-22, 25-18 victory over fourth-seeded Twin Springs (6-16).
Rye Cove also clinched the Cumberland District’s second seed in next week’s Region 1D tournament. Eastside earned the district’s top regional seed as the regular-season champ.
Thomas Walker plays Twin Springs in Thursday’s district consolation game at 6:30 p.m. at Eastside. The winner advances to the Region 1D tournament as the district’s third seed.
Rye Cove was seemingly on a roll after winning the first two sets Tuesday.
Thomas Walker, however, had other ideas.
The Lady Pioneers jumped out to an 11-3 lead on their way to the third set win and pocketed the fourth set too.
In the decisive fifth set, Rye Cove jumped ahead 5-2 and never trailed.
“I think tonight they showed a lot of good character by working hard and working together, especially in that fifth game,” Rye Cove coach Brittney Salyer said.
Thomas Walker coach Kristen Parker said her team may have gone into the match a little over-confident.
“You cannot expect to not play your first two games and then come out and win the rest of your games,” Parker said.
“We just didn’t play up to our potential. In three and four, we did. The other three we did not.”
Rye Cove got 13 kills, five blocks and 16 digs from Kaleigh Sloan, and Ashton Horton added 11 kills and three blocks.
Emily Bishop finished with 34 assists and 20 digs for the Lady Eagles. Laken Sharpe and Mattison Horton each added 11 digs.
Talyn Dibrell had 17 kills and four blocks for Thomas Walker, while Lakin Burke finished with 11 kills and two blocks and Madison Mayes had seven kills.
The Lady Pioneers also got 36 assists from Isabella Schwartz and 13 digs from Savannah Hall.
LADY SPARTANS SURVIVE
Eastside dominated Twin Springs last week in both teams’ final match of the regular season.
That was not the case Tuesday.
The upset-minded Lady Titans gave it all they had in challenging the Lady Spartans.
After losing the second set and coming from behind to win the third, Eastside pulled away early in the fourth set to take the win and advance to the tournament championship game.
Anna Whited led Eastside with 24 kills and 11 digs, Kaylee Yates had 10 kills and Kacie Jones finished with 18 digs.
Chloe Lane led Twin Springs with 23 kills and Chloe Gilmer had 29 assists.
CUMBERLAND TOURNAMENT PAIRINGS
Rye Cove def. J.I. Burton 25-7, 25-11, 22-25, 25-6
Twin Springs def. Castlewood 26-24, 25-20, 23-25, 25-18
At Eastside High School, Coeburn
Rye Cove def. Thomas Walker 25-19, 25-23, 20-25, 15-25, 15-10
Eastside def. Twin Springs 25-22, 26-28, 25-22, 25-18
At Eastside High School, Coeburn
Thomas Walker vs. Twin Springs, 6:30 p.m.
Rye Cove vs. Eastside, 8:30 p.m.