Sequoyah volleyball rolled past host Tellico Plains in three sets on Sept. 19.
While the Lady Chiefs (7-8) picked up a season sweep over the Lady Bears, the biggest thing on the court was a dedication to Dana Wiggins — the heart of volleyball in Monroe County.
Wiggins, the assistant principal at Madisonville Intermediate School, spearheaded the middle school volleyball program for the county. Wiggins was the focus of Sequoyah and Tellico Plains’ combined Pink Out night.
“This gives the girls something else to focus on. Yes, we are here to play, but there is so much more out there. This year was special because Dana is such a big part of volleyball in Monroe County. She was a huge help to me my first year,” Sequoyah coach Rebekah Monhollen said.
Wiggins helped guide Monhollen in her first season at Sequoyah.
“She was also the one that really stepped up and started the Monroe County middle school program that has really helped both Sequoyah and Tellico programs. We needed a feeder program and she went to bat for us,” Monhollen added. “She is a huge part of volleyball here in Monroe County. I hate that she is dealing with this and I am very grateful that we were able to come together as a community and show her that we love her.”
On the court, the Lady Chiefs made quick work. Sequoyah put together a convincing win, something that Monhollen thought was lacking when the Lady Chiefs downed McMinn Central last week.
“I was pleased with our team because we really needed a good win. We played well against Alcoa, but we lost. We won against McMinn Central last week, but it was not a good win,” Monhollen said. “I think tonight, the girls really did a good job of playing together and earning what we did. That was exciting.”
Tellico Plains coach Michael Fox had a different interpretation of the night, critical of his team’s intensity.
“From the very beginning, Tellico played with no heart. They just never got into it, there was no communication, nothing consistent. Our seniors did not step up and play the way they should,” Fox said. “Sequoyah came in really excited about winning this game. Their junior varsity came out and they were awesome. Then their varsity came out and they played without fear. Sequoyah knew they were going to win it as soon as they stepped into the gym.
“Confidence is everything — Sequoyah had it and Tellico did not.”
Sequoyah was able to time and place their hits the way they needed to. Spreading the court and finding holes in Tellico’s defense.
“We were doing a good job at hitting spots and covering on defense. That was something that we have been working on — not just putting the ball over but hitting it where you want it,” Monhollen said. “We had a couple of very smart placements to get points. They were playing well and moving together well, it was great to watch them play.”
Alicia Kimble and company continued to put together solid performances.
“Alicia had really good energy on the court and had good coverage and play. Kaiti Johnson was strong at the net. Olivia (Hill) had some good placements and Paisley (Lane) was doing a good job of defense and offense on the net,” Monhollen added. “Natalia (Shank) really came in and stepped in on that last game. She had been on the bench, but she came in at key moments and did a really good job of picking the energy back up. She really pushed the ball forward with her serves during the last game.”
The Lady Chiefs returned to their 5-1 formation.
Tellico (11-9) came in after a three-day week and showed some rust from the time away from the court.
“I told the girls to consider tonight a practice and to go home and wipe this. It is over, there is no point in holding onto it,” Fox said.
Rylee Teague, Mylie Watson and Addison Woods stood out to Fox while Taylor Martin continued to put on a solid game. Much of Tellico’s team consists of a corps of underclassmen.
“The younger girls actually process this really well. They understand that the game is over and it is time to get ready for the next one,” Fox said. “We still have a lot of season left. Taylor Martin played really well, but her rhythm was off and that was because of having those three days off. They will bounce back and be fine tomorrow.”
Sequoyah moves ahead to a crucial District 5-AA game with Kingston on Thursday.
“We are trying to get a normal rotation. I think that is where we kind of went into a slump. Now that we are getting towards the end of the season, we need that good rotation,” Monhollen said. “We went through a little bit of a slump trying to find it. Hopefully, we come in stronger, but Kingston has been improving too.”
The preliminary pathology reports for Wiggins have come back clean.
“Dana has been a great advocate for volleyball and a great leader for young girls. I think everyone that came out to the gym tonight came out for Dana and the other lives affected by breast cancer,” Fox said.