The Oak Ridge High School Lady Wildcat Volleyball Team finished in a three-way tie for 5th place at the Courtside at Concord tournament hosted by Concord Christian on Saturday. A disappointing finish as the Lady ‘Cats lost to Hardin Valley (23-25, 23-25) who they beat in the morning’s pool play, as well as beat them previously this year. “This was a big picture/small picture kind of day,” said Oak Ridge Head Coach David Kolodney. “The small picture is definitely the disappointment of losing to a team we’ve beaten twice. We made too many mistakes in our second match with them and weren’t able to find a way to overcome them when it mattered most.” The Wildcats had the Hawks in the first set of that match 20-14, yet watched that lead disintegrate in a flurry errors. “The big picture is that we had a really good morning only dropping one set along the way and were able to overcome a big injury to get there,” Kolodney continued. “I’ve always told the girls that the more things they could do the more valuable they are and that was proven today when one of our middles went down and we had to shuffle people in and out of the spot to compensate.” Oak Ridge lost their sophomore middle blocker Ipek Ozcan for the day to a sprained ankle injured in the morning Hardin Valley match. The Lady Wildcats otherwise breezed through morning pool play facing Chattanooga Christian (25-23, 28-26); Hardin Valley Academy (25-16, 23-25, 15-10); Gibbs (25-6, 25-17); and Jefferson County (25-21, 25-13). However, the one dropped set was enough to drop them to the 3rd seed for the gold bracket preventing them from earning a first-round bye. “All-in-all they did a great job adjusting on the fly and playing spots they hadn’t practiced or sometimes even ever played before,” Kolodney continued. “So, we’ll let the disappointment of losing early sit with us for a bit and become fuel for our stretch run.” Oak Ridge was led by Setter Paige Halcrow who cashed in 13 Aces, 56 Assists, 5 Blocks, and 14 Kills throughout the day. “Paige is our player of the tournament,” Kolodney said of his Junior Co-captain. “When you have a player go down early in the day, you need to have a vocal leader who is going to be able to keep things running the way they should. Paige did that for us and contributed mightily with her play.” Sophomore Libero Sydney Ward contributed 46 Digs, Ainsley Patrick had 53 Kills, and Brenna Allred at 8 Blocks. “Even under less than ideal conditions we are contenders with every team out there,” Kolodney finished. “We are setting up for a great October.”
Oak Ridge finishes the regular season next week with one home match on Monday (Powell) and two road matches on Tuesday (Farragut) and Wednesday (Karns). Oak Ridge moves to 28-4 on the season and remains undefeated in District 4-AAA play (10-0).