The Nolensville Lady Knights punched their ticket to the 2019 Class AA Girls' Volleyball State Finals.
Despite losing an earlier game in the day Portland (3-1), the team won its semifinals game Wednesday evening against East Hamilton 3-1 to make it to the final round (25-19, 20-25, 25-18, 25-22).
The theme of this match would be a battle of wills. Both teams were determined to win and advance to the state finals.
In set one the Lady Knights jumped out to a 10-4 lead. The Lady Hurricanes took a timeout to regroup at this juncture in the game as Nolensville was on fire offensively.
The set ups and power shots kept East Hamilton off-balance and Nolensville was on the verge of wearing them down in just the first game. And the Lady Knights quickly extended their lead to 15-7 and wouldn't relinquish it for the rest of the set.
In game two the Knights got behind 10-4 as East Hamilton didn't want their season to end. And their intensity increased, as did their power shots, and their hustle to the ball became more difficult for the Lady Knights to overcome.
But just like all season, the Lady Knights didn't give up. They clawed back into the game and, at midway, got the score to 15-13, forcing a time out by East Hamilton. And later in the contest ties it 18-18. But East Hamilton was able to gain their composure and finish out the second set with a win 25-20.
In set three Nolensville the battle of wills continued. It was 4-4, then 8-8, then 10-10. Neither team wanted to relent the momentum that could lead to a season ending point run.
As it seemed whomever won set three would win the match. Later in the set, ahead 16-15, Nolensville got the point streak they needed. After scoring three straight they took control 19-15. East Hamilton couldn't stop the scoring and Nolensville went on to close out set three 25-18.
In game four it was more of the same: high intensity, several lead changes and the will to win. With the score 21-21 it was crunch time, but Nolensville finished off the game strong to win 25-22.
Nolensville head coach Brett Young remarked on his team advancing to their very first finals.
"We get to play for a state championship tomorrow," he said. "From day one with this team, regardless of lack of seniors, we're a fourth year school, it's been our goal to play on the last day of the season.
"I'm a pretty wordy guy, and usually I have what I feel are a lot of good things to say, but I told them in the huddle is all I can say is I love you, and I can't tell you how proud I am of you.
"This team played so hard, and we deserve to be playing tomorrow, and I'm so happy for the girls."
The game is set Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at MTSU's Murphy Center in a rematch with Portland.