By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
CORBIN—South Laurel had just finished an emotional, grueling four-set match against North Laurel in Monday night’s first game of the 50th District volleyball tournament.
Now the Lady Cardinals had less than 30 minutes to prepare for the championship match with the No. 1 seed and host Corbin Lady Redhounds. As the No. 1 seed in this three team district, Corbin didn’t have to play a first round match.
After the Lady Redhounds won the first set, 30-28, you had the feeling that Corbin might just end this match in three sets, considering the fact that the Lady Cards were bound to be tired.
But South had other plans.
The Lady Cards took the next two sets, 25-15, 25-16, before Corbin came back to tie the match with a 25-16 win. That set up a thrilling fifth set, which the Lady Redhounds won, 17-15.
“I’m very proud of everyone on this team,” South Laurel coach Fawn Greer said. “They all stepped up, played their positions, and played with heart.”
Greer said she noticed the fatigue factor in South’s opening match with North Laurel, which the Lady Cards won in four tough sets.
“I noticed during the North game that we were getting tired,” Greer said. “I told them they can’t get tired now if they want to complete their goal. They were able to get the momentum back and kept pushing.”
Both teams gave it their all in the championship match, leaving nothing on the court. Players threw their bodies to the floor making incredible digs and saves to keep points alive. Both teams served well, and had strong net play, as Corbin’s Vanessa Wiseman battled Taylor Arthur and Alyson Croley for all five sets.
“Taylor played awesome,” Greer said. “And Alyson played well, even though she was playing with a sore shoulder.”
The largest lead either team enjoyed in the first set was three points twice, when South opened with a 3-0 lead, and later when it led 20-17. There were 18 ties.
South led 20-18 when it gave the serve back to Corbin and Brianna Shrout. Two straight aces tied the match at 20-20. The rest of the set saw these two rivals trade points until a kill by Allison Worthy gave Corbin the point and the serve at 29-28.
It looked like Croley had recorded a point for South, which would have tied the match on the next serve, but she was called for an infraction which gave Corbin the point and the set, 30-28.
Instead of getting down on themselves, the Lady Cards regrouped and raced out to a 12-5 lead in the second set as Parsons had two aces while Kaylee Norvell added an ace. Tara Deaton set both Whitney Wilt and Arthur for aces.
“Tara and her sets were outstanding,” Greer said.
Corbin could never get into the second set. By the time the Lady Redhounds reached 10 points, South already had 17. The Lady Cards took the second set, 25-15.
That momentum continued in the third set for South Laurel. The set was close early on until a kill by Arthur cut the lead to 11-9. She took over serving and a kill by C.J. Johnson gave South a 12-11 lead. Corbin would tie the set at 12-12 on a Wiseman kill, but a 13-3 run to end the set gave the Lady Cardinals a 25-16 win and a 2-1 lead. Croley had some huge blocks during that run, while Deaton continued with strong sets and serves. Now South was just one set away from a district title.
Only Corbin had other plans. The Lady Redhounds didn’t get to be the No. 1 seed by luck, as they showed their grit and determination in the fourth set to take a 25-16 win.
After a long rally, which included an excellent dig by South’s Amy Cummins, Corbin’s Chelsea Brock recorded a kill that tied the set, 12-12. Wiseman then blocked Wilt for a 13-12 lead. Worthy served five straight aces for an 18-12 lead. South never recovered from that.
After four exciting sets, a fifth set was needed to determine the district winner.
South took the lead early with Josey Mounce serving for a 6-4 lead, forcing Corbin to call a time out. Out of the break, a long rally ensued which saw Wilt and Mounce both make nice digs, but ended with a Wiseman kill to cut the lead to 6-5.
Corbin would take an 8-6 lead before Arthur blocked Wiseman at the net to make it 8-7 and give South the serve. But the Lady Cards gave it right back when some miscommunication saw them allow the ball to drop between two players.
Corbin maintained its lead until Hannah Norris hit a ball long to tie the match at 11-11 and give Arthur the serve. Worthy hit a ball long and another into the net as South took a 12-11 lead. She made up for those mistakes with a kill to tie the match, 12-12.
Two straight Deaton sets resulted in Johnson kills and a 14-12 South advantage. Both teams traded points until a Wiseman kill tied the match, 15-15, and gave Worthy the serve.
Another Wiseman kill made it 16-15, then Worthy ended things with an ace and a 17-15 Corbin win.
“Both teams played well,” Greer said. “Our back line played great. We’ve still got a goal we are striving for. The girls said we played nine straight sets so we have something to be proud of.”
Both Corbin and South Laurel advance to next week’s region tournament, which will be held at Lynn Camp.