The Lady Purple Tigers advanced to the state tournament’s winner’s bracket final Tuesday afternoon with a 17-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-21 triumph over Hickman County at Middle Tennessee State’s Murphy Center.
Earlier, Watertown opened the tournament with a 24-14, 26-24, 25-22 win over Gatlinburg-Pittman.
The Lady Tigers will take a 30-2 record into Wednesday’s 1 p.m. winner’s final against Loretto. The winner will advance to Thursday’s noon championship match while the loser will return for the 4:30 p.m. loser’s final. The worst Watertown can now finish is third.
“It would be nice, but I don’t want to do it just because Watertown has never done it,” Watertown coach Brandy Holcomb said. “I want to do it because we worked hard for it and these girls, if they keep working, they can do it.”
Holcomb said a key for the Tigerettes are the fundamental.
“We focus on serving and passing,” she said. “I always tell them if we serve well and pass well, we’ll win games. When we get points at the net, that’s just a bonus.
“Natalie (Fountain) hits it well, Ashlyn (Neal) blocks well. I could go down the line. Actually, Brittni Allison probably gets more touches at the net than anybody. But that’s what I call extra because I believe, and we teach, fundamentals. If we pass well and serve well and play defense, we can win any match we play.”
The next match is against a Loretto program with eight previous trips to state. Holcomb, the only coach Watertown has had since the program began in the mid 2000s and who took the Lady Tigers to a 1-2 record in its first trip to state last year, said she isn’t focused on making history, but rather the next match.
“I don’t want to think about first place, second place or third place,” she said. “I want to play one match at a time… That’s what I told the girls all year. Whatever match we’re playing, let’s make that the best we’ve played all year long. We’re not going to change what we’re doing because we’re here. We’re not going to over-coach and we’re not going to over-play. One win at a time. You can’t score two points on any hit or any serve, just one point at a time.”
Tiger Nation turned out at Murphy Center and it didn’t go unnoticed by Holcomb.
“I just want to thank the parents and the fans and the Watertown community and the student section,” she said. “They have been so faithful, travel and cheer, win or lose. I just want to thank them for faithfully supporting us through this journey.”