The Nolensville Lady Knights volleyball team (22-4, 4-0) persevered in five sets 23-25, 25-13, 25-21, 19-25, and 15-11 winning the contest 3-2 against the Franklin Lady Admirals (18-4, 2-2) at home Tuesday night to remain undefeated in district play.
“We hung tough when things did not go our way,” said Nolensville head coach Brett Young. “Franklin played extremely well, and they really pushed us. We need some matches like that. To get to where we obviously want to get to, you are not going to roll everybody in three sets. Franklin is a really good team, and they made us earn it tonight for sure.”
“Definitely losing the first set is not something that we are used to,” said Nolensville senior Maggie Rickert. “We really gelled together and worked as a team and managed to pull it out.”
“I just told them it was going to be a battle point-for-point,” said Franklin head coach Makayla Beebe. “We are going toe-to-toe with them all night. They are going to get their kills, but so are we. They are going to give us something, and we are going to give it right back to them. That is the mentality we came out with.”
Franklin is the only team in district play so far to not get swept by Nolensville.
“You have to throw Franklin’s name in there right now with the best in this county,” said Young. “We have played 26 matches so far, and I do not think anyone has played better than what Franklin looked like tonight. They were extraordinary at the net, and their setter was really good. They just made us earn points.”
In the first set, Franklin won the frame 25-23 after leading 17-9 at one point with blocks, kills, and aces by seniors Abigall Swartz, Natalie Midgett, and Taryn Roberts, juniors Dylann Garner, and Ellie Sigler, and sophomores Reese Moore, Kayla Dunlap, and Zanne Logue.
The Lady Knights stormed back in the second set 25-13 with big plays by seniors Rickert, Madeline McNeely, Peyton Neal, and Caroline Johnston, juniors Marlee Holden, Maggie Allred, and Bella Martin, and sophomore Kaira Knox.
Nolensville gained control in the third set after a 16-16 tie and rallied to win the set 25-21 executing their blocks, kills, and aces from Rickert, Knox, McNeely, Allred, Martin, and Neal to take the advantage 2-1.
“We always practice hitting in and out of system,” said Knox. “We have a good libero in Peyton (Neal) who we can trust to get us the ball so we can kill it.”
Franklin charged back in the fourth set winning the frame 25-19 tallying timely blocks, kills, and aces from Roberts, Garner, Swartz, Dunlap, Midgett, and Moore to tie the match at 2-2.
Franklin kept it close early in the fifth set at 6-3, but Nolensville powered through in their attack from key contributors senior Ellie Tant, Knox, Allred, Rickert, Neal, McNeely, and Johnston to win the set 15-11 and the match 3-2.
“Our team plays so well together and everyone is so supportive,” said Rickert, a Gonzaga commit. “You really can’t go wrong with who you put on the court.”
Franklin was led in kills by Dylann Garner with 17 and Tayrn Roberts with 11.
“They do a great job of leading this team,” said Beebe. “Not only at net, but with leadership and bringing the energy. They had key kills and blocks that turned the momentum of the game.”
The Lady Knights leaders were Knox with an astounding 23 kills and Rickert with 19.
“What makes us dangerous is when teams can’t just focus on these two kids,” said Young. “Both of them went to their off-speed stuff, which scored for us. It is a team effort, but Maggie and Kaira are two phenomenal players.”
Franklin plays Page on Wednesday at home.
“It does not matter who we play on the other side of the net, we are playing hard,” said Beebe. “It is going to be tough to bounce back after a five-setter, but I believe we can do it.”
Nolensville will travel to Brentwood on Thursday.
“Brentwood is going to be ready to defend their home court,” said Young. “They will feel like they owe us one from a couple of weeks ago. They want to stay right in the thick of the district race as well.”
“One thing I talked about to our team is that our days of sneaking up on anybody are long gone,” continued Young. “We are going to get everyone’s best, and it is our job to stand up to it and bring our A-game.”
“We need to start out stronger and not get in much of a rut,” said Knox. “If we have one or two mistakes just shake it off, and get back into it.”
“It is a little bit more pressure because we are playing at their gym,” said Rickert. “We just need to look past the name and play our game.”