By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
CORBIN—After their huge opening game win over Whitley County in the 13th Region volleyball tournament, South Laurel coach Fawn Greer reminded her team their goal still wasn’t completed.
“We told them to be mentally prepared for Harlan County,” Greer said.
The first set proved the Lady Cards were just that, routing the Lady Black Bears, 25-5.
Sets two and three weren’t as easy, but South got the job done, beating Harlan County in both sets, 25-18, 25-19, for a 3-0 victory.
“They got relaxed after that first set,” Greer said. “It’s hard to keep the momentum going.”
Harlan County (17-10-0), winners of the 52nd District, never knew what hit them in that first set as South Laurel (19-6-0) came out firing on all cylinders and were up 10-2 when Harlan County was forced to call a time out.
All that did was slow the Lady Cardinals for just a moment. With Taylor Arthur dominating at the net, South rolled, 25-5.
The Lady Black Bears stepped up their play a little in the second set, even leading 3-0 early. Still, by the time they matched their 5-point output in the first set, South was up, 10-5. A couple of aces from Josie Mounce, along with kills by C.J. Johnson and Alyson Croley, helped South but that lead.
Two kills by Whitney Wilt pushed the lead to 12-6 before Harlan County got the serve back. On Whitney Stevens first two serves, Arthur hit a kill long and had a tip go wide. But on the third serve she made up for those mistakes with a point that gave South a 13-8 lead and the serve.
Kaylee Norvell served three aces, while Arthur and Johnson both had kills as the lead grew to 18-9.
Kills by Johnson and Croley made it 21-10. Then Harlan County started its comeback, outscoring South down the stretch, 8-4, but it wasn’t enough. A net serve by Chyanna Harris gave South the second set, 25-18.
Harlan County was now playing with more confidence and it showed in the third set as the lead changed hands four times and there were four ties when South took a 6-5 on a Johnson kill, a lead it would not surrender.
The Lady Black Bears hung close throughout the remainder of the set, but could never get closer than two (17-15). South maintained its lead and took the third set, 25-19, and the match, 3-0.
The win moved the Lady Cardinals into last night’s championship game, where they will face Corbin for the fifth time this season. Even though her team lost the first four, Greer is still confident going into the match.
“I think we are ready for Corbin,” Greer said. “Our last match in the district championship was close (Corbin won, 3-2). These girls have heart and still have a goal. But it’s hard to tell which team will come out.”
The winner advances to next week’s state volleyball tournament at Valley High School in Louisville. The 13th Region winner will meet the winner from Region 1 at 10 a.m. on October 26. Ballard Memorial (31-8-0) faced No. 13 Lone Oak (34-4-0) last night for that region’s championship.