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Cove captures fifth straight Cumberland title

Jeff Birchfield • Oct 26, 2018 at 2:00 AM

CLINCHPORT — Rye Cove still rules the roost in Cumberland District volleyball.

The Lady Eagles downed Eastside 14-25, 25-14, 25-18, 25-23 on Thursday to win their fifth straight district title and sixth in the past seven years.

Callie Richardson led the way with 14 kills and seven blocks and came through after the Lady Eagles’ slow start.

“We expected that from Eastside,” Rye Cove coach Greg Gilliam said. “I told the girls it was going to be a long night, and I thought it was really going to be a long night after that first game. We didn’t play well at all, but then all of a sudden we turned it around.”

They sure did with Emily Bishop accounting for 31 assists and 14 digs. Abby Vicars had a team-high 25 digs, Grace Rhoton added 19, Kaleigh Sloan tallied 14 and Ashley Smith had a dozen.

Richardson, the middle blocker, also led the Cove with 11 service points.

“She came up with some big kills when we needed them and she was solid,” Gilliam said. “Richardson has been our go-to all year. She’s what you call a finisher because you give her the ball and she’s very effective at the middle.”

Anna Whited had 14 kills and 20 digs to pace the Spartans. Reiley McCoy had 12 kills and Eliza Johnson had 33 assists. Kacie Jones recorded 29 digs, Chloe Bailey 15 and Hailey Mitchell 12.

“I thought we had a few errors that shot our momentum at times,” Eastside coach Brianne Bailey said. “Rye Cove is always a tough opponent and it’s always a good match between us.”

So why does Rye Cove have such a winning tradition?

“It’s the expectations,” Gilliam said. “Everybody expects to play well and the girls realize we’re going to work hard in the offseason and in the practices. We expect to win, to be honest.”

CONSOLATION MATCH

Thomas Walker jumped out to big early leads in the first and third sets on its way to a 25-16, 23-25, 25-13, 25-19 victory over J.I. Burton in the third-place match.

Tanna Whitt led the Lady Pioneers with 16 kills, followed by Abby Bullins with nine kills, Tayln Dibrell with eight kills and seven digs and Madison Mayes with seven kills. Bella Schwartz provided 38 assists, Makensie Long had eight digs, and Lakin Burke and Savannah Hall each accounted for seven digs.

Maggie Williams led Burton with 16 kills, 16 digs and three blocks, followed by Sarah Mullins with 16 kills, 13 digs and two blocks. Bailey Sturgill chipped in 29 assists and Alyssa Hollinger had 12 digs.

The consolation match determined the Cumberland’s third team to qualify for next week’s Region 1D tournament.

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