SUMMERTOWN – It wasn’t the performance Andrea Kelly would have preferred, but the result was just fine.
Weathering a less-than-focused start, Summertown split its first two sets with Loretto before taking the final two for a 3-1 District 11-A win Thursday over its visiting cross-county rival – and continuing a run of success that includes all seven meetings in 2020, culminating in the Class A state finals.
“The first two (sets), I’m scared to watch it back,” the veteran coach said after the Lady Eagles picked up their second victory of the season, following Monday’s sweep of Eagleville. “We probably had 10 errors that we gave points away. I feel like we had more errors than we earned points.
“We were tight.”
Senior hitter Katie Burdette agreed with Kelly’s assessment.
“I feel like we were uptight early – spazzy, inconsistent,” said Burdette, a standout member of last year’s title team and the 2019 Class A state tourney most valuable player. “Sometimes, the nerves get to us.
“It’s Loretto. We play them seven times a year. We have to show out or we’re going to lose a set like we did.”
Summertown won the opening set 25-21, but fell behind 5-0 in the second set and never established itself in an epic 30-28 Lady Mustang triumph.
From there, though, the hosts regrouped with 25-19 and 25-14 wins to close out the matchup.
“Our first three sets, I thought we did really well,” Loretto coach Nick Quillen said. “The fourth – whether it was fatigue or the gut punch from the third, …
“It’s early. We’ve got some time to figure out what we need to do.”
Besides senior hitter Karly Weathers, an Alabama basketball commit, Quillen was pleased with the play of junior libero Briley Dover against Summertown.
“I think she’s got the fastest reactions of anybody I’ve ever seen,” he said. “We rely a lot on her, and she gets the job done.”
The loss was the first for Loretto, after defeating Lawrence County 3-1 and Columbia Central 3-0 earlier this week. The Lady Mustangs have maintained their composure through the opening week of the season despite the absence of Adison Purcell, who suffered a head injury while helping her family with a project Sunday.
Purcell was struck by a portion of a frame for a metal building, sustaining a fractured skull and bleeding on her brain. She remains hospitalized at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“She’s been in a lot of pain, between the injury and the surgery,” Quillen said. “They’ve been trying to get her comfortable, with her medicines and dosages. But they seem to be getting there, and she’s been talking a little. She knows what’s going on.
“We want to try to keep her involved, but we’ve got to take care of business here.”
Though she wasn’t wowed by her team’s play from start to finish, Kelly understood, given the circumstances and the opponent. The two teams met last year in a pair of regular-season district contests, as well as the Border Battle at Lawrence County, in the district tournament finals, the region tournament finals, the state tourney winners bracket finals and the state championship.
“By the third game, we got in a rhythm,” she said. “We weren’t so worried about the other team. We played our game. But it’s Loretto. It’s ‘here we go again’.
“I’ve told our seniors (Burdette, Carlee Emerson, Caiti Beth Gallaher and Alexa Newell), you’ll decide if we win or not. They stepped up.”
Both teams will participate in tournament play Saturday, as Loretto heads to Brooks (Ala.) while Summertown will be at Middle Tennessee Christian.
• Mt. Pleasant fell in five sets Thursday to Collinwood, winning 25-20 and 25-13 before dropping the final three by scores of 25-17, 25-15 and 15-11.
• Sophie Williams scored a goal in each half as Culleoka blanked visiting Richland 2-0 in District 10-A girls soccer play Thursday. Sara Thompson assisted on one of the goals for the Lady Warriors.
• Also in girls soccer, Cornersville defeated Zion Christian 4-1.