The Nolensville Lady Knights (19-4, 2-0) volleyball team decisively defended their home court on by sweeping the Ravenwood Lady Raptors (7-4, 1-2) 25-16, 25-14, and 25-16 on Wednesday night.
This is the first time the two teams have faced each other since meeting in the 2021 AAA state championship game last October when Nolensville took the crown in straight sets.
“It means a lot that we stayed together,” said Nolensville sophomore Kaira Knox. “It just felt really good for everyone to support us and come out with the win.”
“Last year, Ravenwood was our biggest competition, playing them in the championship,” said Nolensville senior and Gonzaga commit Maggie Rickert. “Being able to sweep them is really big for us.”
“I thought we played really well tonight in all aspects of the game,” said Nolensville head coach Brett Young. “We served it well, ball control was good, and we took advantage at the net. Our middles did a good job of controlling it. Our hitters were on tonight, and our setters got it to them in good spots.”
“I think it is a good learning lesson for us,” said Ravenwood senior Reaghan Larkin. “Obviously you have to respect them. They are best in the state right now. We need to work on hitting more aggressively and picking up more defensive balls.”
Nolensville got off to a fast start in the first set with several timely kills, blocks, and aces by seniors Caroline Johnston, Madeline McNeely, Rickert, Peyton Neal, juniors Marlee Holden and Maggie Allred, sophomore Knox, and freshman Addison Wiemann taking the first set 25-16.
The Lady Knights continued to surge, winning all three phases of attack with big plays by Knox, Allred, Rickert, Holden, and junior Bella Martin to take the second set 25-14.
“We always dig deep and give 110 percent in practice,” said Knox. “It translates on the court, because we know that we can trust each other on the floor with a timely play.”
“They have a really good front row and their back row is pretty solid too,” said Ravenwood’s Larkin. “We just have to find ways to score around them and get them out of system.”
In the third set, Ravenwood started out strong, grabbing a 4-3 lead. Nolensville answered the call, storming back with a host of Lady Knights collecting strong aces, kills, and blocks from seniors Ellie Tant, Katie Hammonds, Paisley Layton, Johnston, Neal, McNeely, sophomore Knox, and freshman Wiemann to win the third set 25-16 for the 3-0 sweep.
Nolensville has a very experienced team with nine seniors on their roster.
“The last three years we have had no seniors, five seniors, and then four,” said Young. “We have not been senior heavy, and this is our biggest class.
"Maggie (Rickert) and Caroline (Johnston) have been in the lineup since they were freshman. To have quality seniors that have that good experience and do such a good job of leading the team is a big part of our success right now.”
Larkin and sophomore Julia Hynes were team leaders for the Lady Raptors in kills. Larkin had 13 and Hynes had six.
Nolensville’s kill leaders were Knox with 14 and Rickert 11.
“Kaira is amazing,” said Rickert. “She is only a sophomore and already killing it. We have such good defenders all around our team, so either in or out of system, we always can find a way to put the ball down.”
“We all trust our setters to take the ball, and we just kill it from there,” said Knox.
“When we pass the ball to our setters, we were able to use all of our hitters,” said Young. “You forget Kaira is only a sophomore with how she plays out there. Maggie had some really good swings and some smart shots. When you’ve got those two on the front row, it is tough for a team to pick who to stop.”
Ravenwood will host Centennial next Tuesday.
“With the next game, we have to get more aggressive with defense and attacking,” said Larkin. “We have to get stronger at the front row and even out our offense.”
Nolensville will travel to Centennial on Thursday.
“All our district matches are tough,” said Young. “This county is phenomenal with all the high caliber volleyball it has in it. Centennial is a sound team, and we will have to go over there and play well.”