The Nolensville Lady Knights volleyball team (30-4, 6-0) won in straight sets 25-22, 25-8, 25-16 over the Ravenwood Lady Raptors (7-9, 2-5) on the road on Thursday night to remain undefeated in district play.
“This was a weird week for us, probably the most rest we have had since the season started,” said Nolensville head coach Brett Young. “We played all those matches Saturday in the Border Battle and had a bye on Tuesday. I thought we were rusty in the first set. Our girls stepped it up in sets two and three.”
“It is definitely big,” said Nolensville senior Maggie Rickert. “We kind of underestimated them in the first set, but it was nice to come out and do a lot better in the second two sets.”
“I think we put in a lot of effort, especially in the first set, putting a lot of fight in,” said Ravenwood senior Katie Allen. “It did not turn out the way we wanted to, but we have a lot of things to work on. We can only go up from here, and I am excited to see where the rest of our season will take us.”
“I think they (Nolensville) have a really good connection,” said Ravenwood senior Bella LePore. “They only lost two seniors last year, so they are well bonded. It is a tough team to score on and play against.”
Ravenwood battled in the first set, coming back from a 16-11 deficit, with timely kills and blocks by junior Mackenzie Bidwell, senior Abby Chadwick, junior Christina Chen, senior Katie Powell, and sophomore Julie Donovan.
“We had a lot of fight and passion,” said Allen. “We were able to find some of their weaknesses and use that to our advantage.”
“We were connecting really well in the first set,” said LePore. “I think that we were all talking to each other. We had passion and wanted to win.”
However, Nolensville regained momentum, prevailing in all three phases with big plays from freshman Addison Wiemann, sophomore Kaira Knox, seniors Rickert, Caroline Johnston, Peyton Neal, Madeline McNeely, and junior Maggie Allred to take the opening set 25-22.
In the second set, Nolensville hit another gear as their balanced offense continued to churn, tallying key blocks, kills, and aces from Wiemann, Rickert, Allred, Neal, and senior Katie Hammonds to secure the frame 25-8.
The Lady Knights sealed the deal in the third set executing in all aspects of the game with contributions from Rickert, Wiemann, Allred, Knox, senior Paisley Layton, sophomore Addy Wimmer, and sophomore Mia Poag to win 25-16. Nolensville completed the sweep of the Lady Raptors 3-0.
This AAA division features four teams (Nolensville, Ravenwood, Brentwood, and Franklin) that are ranked in the state and continues to be a grind for all Williamson County programs throughout the regular season.
“This is the toughest district in the state,” said Young. “I won’t back away from that. You have five strong teams, four of which are state-ranked teams. Centennial is a battle any time they come. I think it is a testament to our kids that they come ready every night. When you have to bring your A-game every night, that is tough to do. You know that you have to play well or somebody could step up and beat you.”
“I think we play in the best district in the state,” said Rickert. “Just being at the top of that is setting the bar high for ourselves.”
“It is really tough,” said LePore. “We have to go into every game with a confident mindset.”
Ravenwood was led in kills by Chen with six and Chadwick with five.
Nolensville’s kill leaders were Gonzaga commit Rickert with 12 and Wiemann with eight.
“We talk about her (Maggie) every night, but it is because she is always there for us,” said Young. “She has been so good for us on the outside the past three years and really been a dynamic player all four years. You always know what you are going to get with Maggie, and that is a great feeling as a coach.
“Addison Wiemann has really come into her own this last half of the year,” continued Young. “She has stepped into that outside two spot and had a lot of big kills. Our setters are not afraid to go to her in some pressure spots. It was nice to see her step up tonight for sure.”
“Addison is a freshman from Mill Creek (middle school) and helped build off the foundation that they had there,” said Rickert. “Outside for Nolensville is a very stressful job. She has stepped up nicely and is killing it.”
Ravenwood will take on Independence at home next Monday.
“I think our team will have the energy and a whole new dynamic when we play them,” said Allen. “I think we are going to do a lot of things well after our practices this week and see a difference.”
“I think we are hoping to come out with a lot of energy,” said LePore. “We need to feel good about what we put out on the court whether or not we win or lose. We know Independence is a really good team, and we need to match their energy.”
Nolensville will have tournament play this weekend before their final two matches in district against Centennial and Franklin next week.
“We are in a unique spot where we have two games to go and two games up on the rest of the district,” said Young. “We need to win one of these last two, but our mindset will be the same as it always is. We will take each match in order and make it our most important match. Our focus on Tuesday will be honoring our nine seniors for senior night and clinching the regular season district championship.”
“Centennial is going to put up a fight and not just let us win,” said Rickert. “We played Franklin once, and they took us to five. They are definitely someone I don’t think people had on their radar, but now they are the team to beat. We need to come out with a lot of fire and energy.”