By Allen Hamrick
The season ended this past week for the Lady Panther volleyball team and what a glorious ending it was. The Lady Panthers were in action at the sectional tournament where it would be determined who would move on to the regional level. In the first round, the Ladies beat Lewis County at home in three straight games in a best of five matchup. It was a nail biter as Lewis County was a tough nut to crack in the first two games coming out blow for blow with the Lady Panthers. However, they also had to deal cards with one of the best hitters anywhere in the form of Rylee Burkhamer. If her kill shots were clocked with a speed gun, her arm would have to be considered a dangerous weapon. In the final game of the set, Lewis County was ready for the volleyball nursing home and was sent home until next season. All the team did a great job of digging and killing all the while feeding the frenzy of the pit and fans. Match 1 – Clay 25, Lewis 20; Match 2 – Clay 26, Lewis 24; Match 3 – Clay 25, Lewis 11.
After winning that match, they had to go up against the Lady Raiders of Roane County for the Sectional title. It would prove to be one of the best matches I have seen on the floor. The Lady Raiders were good and ready to deal snake eyes to the Lady Panthers, but they underestimated the Lady Panthers just a little. The Lady Raiders of Roane County were bent on getting the plaque into their own trophy case, but they would have to dance the Lady Panther’s two set boom first. However, they never got the chance to lead it. Beating a team with the talent that Roane has would be like cutting firewood with a 2×4. However, the Lady Panthers are equal with the best of teams when it comes to guns and grit. It was guns against guns, diggers against diggers and setters against setters. It was volleyball heaven for the fans as it was either feast or famine for the two teams from raising arms in joy to pulling ones hair out.
In the first game, the Lady Panthers took the wind out of the sails of the Lady Raiders while shaking the floor like an earthquake and beating them easily 25-11. In the second match, the Lady Raiders come out serving up aces, and the Lady Panthers found them difficult to beat with a full house. Lady Panthers lost the next match 20-25. Then the matches became a place where the faint of heart couldn’t exist. The games were intense, to say the least, and the sound was deafening. In the end, the Lady Panthers took down the mighty Ladies of Roane in the last two spectacular games in spectacular style, 25-20 and 25-22. This allowed the Lady Panthers a berth in the four team Regional playoffs at Phillip Barbour on Saturday. A win here would send them to the big dance at the state finals. However, it was not to be this year as the Lady Panthers went down in defeat. This is not a sad tale at the end of a spirited season for the Lady Panthers; they finished 18-13 and 3 on the season and are the 2023 Sectional Champions.
Congratulations to the Lady Panthers!