GALLATIN - Molly Yarbrough and the Station Camp Bison volleyball team are headed back to the state tournament for the first time since 2018.
The 3-2 substate victory over Summit comes on the heels of their fourth consecutive region tournament championship.
The goal of reaching the state tournament is nothing new for Yarbrough and her team. She has built a powerhouse in her district and region, always giving the Bison a shot at advancing to Murfreesboro.
Thursday night’s substate game marked the program’s fourth in-a-row.
The biggest hurdle for every team in 2020 has been no preseason.
Preseason scrimmages allow coaches to find their strengths and weaknesses before the season. 2020 has forced coaches and teams to figure things out as they go.
“For us to be here is huge because the biggest thing this year was the unknown,” Yarbrough said. “I knew what they were capable of, but not having those almost 30 matches before the season to find your strengths and weaknesses was hard to navigate this year. That said, I always believed they could do it.”
The Bison found themselves in trouble early, falling to Summit 20-25 in set one.
Having to navigate the Spartans’ size on their front line, Yarbrough says there was an adjustment after the first set.
“They have big blockers, so the idea was to speed up our tempo, forcing them to move and have our hitters be more vocal, so they had to do more guessing.”
Unforced errors also hurt the Bison in set one as Station Camp was routinely called for either touching or going underneath the net.
“Volleyball is such a technical sport, and you never know how tight a match will be officiated,” Yarbrough said. “Net calls killed us, but once that happens, and you learn how a game will be officiated, you refocus and start playing the way you’re capable of playing.”
The Bison jumped out to a sizable 21-9 lead before having to hold on for the 25-21 victory in set two.
Yarbrough’s team battled back-and-forth with Summit throughout set three. With neither team gaining more than a three-point advantage through the first 35 combined points, Station Camp ballooned their 19-16 lead to 23-17 before winning the set 25-20.
“It’s all about refocusing and getting back to playing it one ball at a time,” Yarbrough said of her message during timeouts.
Summit bounced back to take set four, 25-16, keeping Station Camp off-balance with timely big hits.
Going into the game’s final set, Yarbrough says there was never a nervous moment for her team.
“At this point, nerves are not there,” she said. “It’s about putting it all out there, not being timid and giving everything you got.”
The final set went back-and-forth, as neither team gained more than a one point advantage through eight points.
Station Camp opened their lead by four, but Summit bounced back to close the gap to one, 12-11.
The Bison won the next three out of four points to take the set and the match, 15-12.
Station Camp will take on Houston on Tuesday, October 20, at Siegel High School. The match is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
If the Bison win, they will face Siegel and Maryville's winner on Wednesday, October 21 at noon. If the Station Camp falls in match one, they will play in a loser-out game against Siegel and Maryville's loser at 5:00 p.m.
All Class AAA state games will be held at Siegel High School.