McKinley High and Lee High sailed into the finals of the fifth annual Tara High Volleyball Classic on Saturday with perfect 5-0 records in pool play, quarterfinals and semifinals. The promise of a spirited championship match turned into a reality.
Both sets of the final match went into extra points, with McKinley winning 26-24 and 27-25 to claim the title.
“We had some highs and some lows, but we’re learning how to finish, and we did a great job of finishing today,” McKinley coach Bridget Bowman said. “We were coming off a loss at Lee High a couple of days ago, so it was a little bit of payback. We played with a lot of poise and didn’t give up at any point. That’s something we’ve really improved on.”
Both sets featured key scoring runs by both teams. McKinley started with an 11-2 run to take a 16-11 lead in the first set before Lee answered with an 8-1 surge of its own. After the set was tied at 20, they traded points until Charity Gipson recorded the winning point on a dink over the front row.
In the second set, Lee struck first with a 7-0 run for a 16-9 lead before McKinley won 11 of the next 13 points.
Gipson was also involved in the final point of the second as the server when Lee netted the ball to give the Panthers the win.
“We came here today with a good mindset,” Gipson said. “We came here with a mindset to play hard and dominate, and we did that.”
Lee moved into the championship with a semifinal win over The Church Academy, while McKinley earned its semifinal win over host Tara.
Gipson led the Panthers with three kills, four assists, two digs and a block. Tournament MVP Tyrianna Jarrell had five service aces, two assists and a dig. Caira Wren led the defense with four blocks.
Diamond Holliday had six kills and three blocks for the Patriots. Reghan Daniel followed wih four kills and seven assists. Markeisha Hives also had seven assists, and Valente’ Jenkins had seven aces.
Joining Jarrell on the all-tournament team were Carley Gipson and Johna Foreman of McKinley, Chassidy Robinson (Lee), Kylie Jones (Ascension Christian), Abreanna Banks (Northeast), Casey Jones (TCA), Tya Bell (Glen Oaks), Cederion Brown (Capitol), Catherine Henning (Runnels), Brooklyn Giovingo (Walker), Doretha Dixon (East Iberville), Kennedy Barnes (Woodlawn) and Jaleicia Miller (Scotlandville).