NEWPORT—The Cocke County High Lady Red took care of business at home against Grainger on Monday.
After losing on the road to the Lady Grizzlies the first time around, the Lady Red bounced back to protect home court with a victory of 3-1 (25-17, 25-18, 25-27, 25-13).
A quick 2-0 lead led the way for Cocke County (4-5), and a dominant fourth and final set put the finishing touches on the match. The 25-13 fourth set win was fueled by a struggling third set that Grainger pulled away from the Lady Red in the very end.
“I think we had a chip on our shoulder,” head coach Jeremy Byrd of Cocke County said. “We had the momentum this time. I think we are a little better this time around. We served the ball and passed it around really well. I was excited about that.”
The Lady Red started hot in the first set with an early 8-1 lead, but Grainger would linger around after cutting the deficit to only trail 10-7. With help from senior Leah Brown’s kill, Cocke County went on an 11-2 run that gave it a 21-12 lead. The Lady Grizzlies could not escape mistakes, as the Lady Red took advantage of them to go up one with the 25-17 win.
The momentum carried into the second set with even more steady scoring to lead the Lady Red to another victory. It was a tight beginning with Grainger leading first, but Cocke County gradually pulled ahead 8-7. From there, the Lady Red never looked back.
Junior Maddie Williams executed three kills in the final 10 scores for Cocke County and pushed it ahead 18-13. The Lady Grizzlies could not knock the Lady Red out of their rhythm, as the second set belonged to Cocke County 25-18.
“We were able to get off on a good start,” Byrd said. “We had some good serving that extended our lead. We were able to hit our spots. We got the lead and took off from there. We were excited to play and we came ready.”
A rough third set was in store for the Lady Red, though. A back-and-forth battle through the set led to a 24-21 Grainger lead. Brown and freshman Paige Neithammer worked together to tie the set at 24, but the Lady Grizzlies held it together to win their first set 27-25.
“We had to forget that third set pretty quickly,” senior Annie Wardroup said. “We knew we wanted to just play like we know how to play. We wanted to finish the game.”
However, the disappointing third set only fueled Cocke County to victory in the final set. A dominant performance was executed from the start with sophomore Gracie Gregg leading the way with her four aces to give the Lady Red a 10-2 advantage.
The hot start rattled the Lady Grizzlies and made it tough for them to find a rhythm. Cocke County only kept pushing to come away with a 25-13 victory and take the match.
“I thought we would come back and win it in three,” Byrd said. “Anytime you play Grainger County, they aren’t going to let anything come easy. We struggled and were a little too relaxed, but we picked it up to get a big fourth set win.”
With the momentum of a big non-district win over Grainger, the Lady Red will look to turn it into success in league play as it travels to Jefferson County later this evening for a 5:30 p.m. match with their arch district rival.