It has been nearly a decade since the Franklin High volleyball team has reached the state tournament, but it only took second-year coach Amber Holzer two seasons to bring an end to that drought.
The Lady Rebels (29-11), runner-up finishers in both the District 11-AAA and Region 6-AAA tournaments, captured a 26-24, 25-11, 25-17 victory over Beech in last Thursday’s sectional, clinching the program’s first state tournament berth since 2006.
“It has taken a lot of hard work, and I think the biggest thing that has happened has been a change in mindset,” Holzer said. “Another thing that we have going for us this year is that we have a whole bunch of kids that want to work really hard and they want to win … They know how to win; they know what it takes, and they’ve done a really good job of that all season.
“When you’re competing at a high level and you’re seeing some of the best teams in the state within (District 11-AAA), it absolutely prepares you for a high level of volleyball (at the state tournament).”
Brentwood, Franklin advance to state volleyball tourney
The team’s title quest begins with Wednesday’s 9:30 a.m. quarterfinal match with Bearden at MTSU’s Murphy Center, but in order for the Lady Rebels to capture their first state championship in program history, they’ll have to get by district rival and two-time defending state champion Brentwood.
The District 11-AAA and Region 4-AAA champion Lady Bruins (48-3), who didn’t drop a single set to Franklin in the three regular-season and two previous postseason meetings, have won a state-record 10 state championships, and they’ll be looking to polish off their second three-peat of the Barbara Campbell era.
Brentwood (48-3), which defeated Farragut in last year’s Class AAA title match, will square off with District 5-AAA and Region 3-AAA champion Ooltewah (45-11) at 12:30 p.m Wednesday.
Siegel (35-8), the District 7-AAA and Region 4-AAA champion, will be making its third consecutive state tournament appearance this week in Murfreesboro.
The Lady Stars will face White Station at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
Three-time defending Class A champion Goodpasture (40-10) will look to make it four in a row this week, as the Lady Cougars highlight a bracket filled with fellow Midstate competition.
District 7-A champion and Region 4-A runner-up Jackson County, which knocked off Sale Creek 3-2 in last Thursday’s Class A sectional, will square off with Eagleville (28-14) in Wednesday’s 11 a.m. quarterfinal at Blackman High School.
Goodpasture will take on South Greene (43-2) at 12:30 p.m., while District 12-A and Region 6-A champion Summertown (36-7), coming off a 3-0 sectional win over Nashville Christian, will face Trinity Christian (19-13) at 2.
Page (30-20), making its ninth consecutive state tournament appearance, takes on Jackson South Side in Wednesday’s 11 a.m. Class AA quarterfinal at MTSU.
The District 12-AA and Region 6-AA champion Lady Patriots, who have won six state championships since 2000, will be looking for their first title since winning in 2010 and 2011.
Hume-Fogg (22-22), which defeated Camden in Thursday’s Class AA sectional, will take on Sullivan South on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
Father Ryan tops Harpeth Hall, secures trip to state
Defending champion Baylor (43-4), which defeated Father Ryan in last year’s title match, will square off with St. Agnes (21-14) in Wednesday’s first semifinal at Siegel High School, while the senior-led Lady Irish will take on a powerful Briarcrest team at 2 p.m.
Father Ryan (37-9), which captured a 3-1 win over Harpeth Hall in Saturday’s quarterfinal, dropped a pair of early-season matches to the Lady Saints (43-4).
Reach Michael Murphy at 615-259-8262 and on Twitter @Murph_TNsports.