The Portland Lady Panther volleyball team laid claim to its third straight region championship by sweeping Camden in three sets last Tuesday.
That win propelled the Purple to their third straight state tournament appearance and fourth overall, and the team is taking part in the tournament at Middle Tennessee State University this week.
"Getting this far, its already been a great year," Coach Rob Lesemann said after the trophy presentation. "We have goals and one of them is to win the state championship this week. However, I want the girls to take time to appreciate where they are at. There are a lot of teams that would like to be where we are at."
In a rematch of last year's region title match, Portland and Camden met in last Tuesday's championship with the Purple winning 25-12 in the first set, taking a 25-15 victory in the middle game and finishing off the Lady Lions with a 25-13 decision.
"We hadn't seen Camden this season, but we know they are always well-coached and a good team," Lesemann said. "They do a good job of hitting in different spots. We had to adjust our defense."
The Lady Panthers never trailed in the opening game after a 1-1 tie. Portland led 4-3, then started to pull away with a pair of 6-0 runs that produced the final 13-point margin of victory.
The Purple trailed 1-0 and 3-2 in the early moments of the second set, but again started to pull away as a serving violation against Lady Lions allowed Portland to reel off 5 unanswered points. A Pippin block would later up the spread to 18-10, and Pippin recorded a kill for a 23-15 margin and the Lady Panthers would close the deal for the 10-point winning edge.
In the decisive third set, the score was tied at 2-2 before Portland built a double-digit lead at 21-11. The Lady Panthers would wrap up the match and the title by scoring 4 of the final 6 points for the win.
For the match, Katie Crutchfield had 10 digs and 14 kills and added a pair of assists while Josie Runyon netted 11 digs, a trio of kills, 33 assists, one block and one ace. Pippin finished with a pair of blocks, an ace, two digs and 13 kills along with a single assist. Emily Rogers came up with nine digs, three aces and an assist; Emma High finished with a block, six digs, seven kills and one assist. Jordyn Latimer recorded two aces and six digs.
Rayleigh Hester contributed a dig, one assist and two kills, Anna McGlothlin finished with four kills and a dig and an assist and Ashton Hoffman netted five digs and three assists.
In the semifinals of the region tourney, the Lady Panthers posted a three-set win over Fairview. In the opening game, Portland won 25-11, took the second 25-14 and finished off the Lady Jackets 25-15.
"We hadn't seen Fairview since July," Lesemann said. "Both teams' line-up was different tonight. We played pretty well and played a solid match. Fairveiw had went five sets in their semifinal and final in their district tournament."
Portland trailed briefly 2-1 in the opener, but quickly took charge with 8 straight points and followed that with a 6-0 run that produced a 21-9 advantage. In the second set, the Purple led 4-0, and three kills by Pippin and an ace by the junior gave Portland a 14-4 lead. The biggest lead was 20-7, and the Purple cruised to the 11-point victory.
Fairview came out strong in the third game and led 8-4 before the Lady Panthers tied the score at 10-10 and took control with a 6-0 run.
Crutchfield had 13 kills and 13 digs along with an ace and an assist in the match while Pippin recorded 15 kills, two digs and an ace. Rogers finished with 19 digs and an assist, and Runyon contributed 36 assists, five digs, two kills and an ace. High had eight kills and three digs, while Hester netted two kills and a dig. Latimer had four aces and six digs, McGlothlin registered three kills and three digs and Hoffman came up with seven digs, four assists and a kill.
Josie Runyon, Emily Rogers, Katie Crutchfield, and Savanah Pippin were selected to the all-region team.