Isabella title run ends in quarterfinals

Published 3:13 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Isabella’s latest run at a state title came to an end in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A state volleyball tournament.

The Mustangs lost a hard fought battle in five sets to Athens Bible (25-12, 24-26, 25-16, 18-25, 15-11).

Despite the loss, the current senior class will be defined by their success. Those who have played all four years of high school have won 140 games during the time.

“I just hate losing this group,” Isabella head coach Glen Graham said. “I always tell them don’t let the game define who they are as women. I have high hopes for all of them.”

The game went back and forth with the teams trading set wins throughout the contest.

Things did not start as well as Isabella had hoped, losing the first set by three points and struggling to return serves on multiple occasions.

According to Graham, the Mustangs’ passing was off the mark early on, which was uncharacteristic because it had been a strength for the team all season.

That began to change in the second set, as the Mustangs mounted a comeback victory that began after Alexis Owens hustled to keep a ball in play that resulted in an Isabella point late in the set.

Kinley Tuttle took over from there and finished off the set scoring Isabella’s final three points with a pair of blocks and a kill.

“It was some of the best moments of her career,” Graham said.

Tuttle’s performance came when the Mustangs were in desperate need of a win and on the biggest stage.

“It was really uplifting to know that I had my team’s back and they had mine as well,” Tuttle said.

The game’s momentum continued to shift between the teams with Athens Bible winning the third and Isabella forcing another set with a win in the fourth.

According to Graham, the fourth set was the Mustangs’ best game of the match, when they were most consistently in system and playing their game.

It appeared as if the momentum was on Isabella’s side, but the game’s trend remained in tact, and the Mustangs came up short of a second straight trip to the state semifinals.

Graham hugged and shared a word with each of his players after the loss.

Synia Chattman led the way with an all-around performance, as she finished with a team-high 22 kills and 10 blocks to go with 17 digs and three aces.

“When I’m out there, I just tell myself to ‘play smart, find the holes and play your game,’” Chattman said.

Sophia Underwood had 27 digs, while Tuttle had nine kills and nine blocks.

Kasey Grimes left the game temporarily with an ankle injury in the third set, but was ready to go to start the fourth set. She finished with 14 assists, four kills, four digs, as well as an ace and a block.

“Even though we didn’t make it like we were expecting to, it was fun playing with all them,” Chattman said. “I look forward to coming back and watching them [teammates] next year.”