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Ashley Stock goes up at the net against Boyle Co.

SOMERSET—Big game experience can prove to be the difference in close games.

Take Wednesday night’s 12th Region volleyball semi-final between defending region champ South Laurel and upstart Boyle Co. The Lady Cards were not at their best, and trailed in both sets before coming back to take a 25-17, 25-23 win over the Lady Rebels and advance to last night’s final against Southwestern.

“We came out dragging our feet a little bit in that first set,” Coach Kaye Smith said. “It’s odd how girls can play so well one night, and not the next. Hopefully this will be the only game we don’t play well in.”

Smith noted that her team’s experience in this situation was probably what carried them through.

“We were able to hold things together when it got close,” Smith said. “I think our big game experienced helped us.”

Boyle Co. maintained its lead throughout most of the first set, though there were nine ties, the last being at 15-15.

A kill by Ashley Stock gave the Lady Cards a 16-15 lead, their first lead since way back at 3-2. Another Stock kill, followed by an Emily Gaines ace, gave South an 18-15 lead. From there, the Lady Cards pulled out to a 25-17 win as Haley Phelps scored a couple of big points down the stretch.

The Lady Rebels came out fired up in the second set and built an 11-5 lead, thanks to two aces by Lindsey Emerson. But the Lady Cards didn’t let the big lead phase them, and started to battle back with the serving of Breanna Allen and kills by Phelps and Erika Burchett to cut the lead to 11-9.

Boyle held its lead until Megan Kendrick hit a ball into the net to tie the match at 13-13. Burchett took over serving, and she delivered an ace to give South its first lead at 14-12. Two more aces, plus points by Stock and Gaines, gave the Lady Cards an 18-13 lead.

Just when it looked like South would pull away, Boyle would answer to keep the match close. The Lady Rebels pulled to within one five times, and even tied the score at 22-22, but the Lady Cards were able to prevail in a thrilling second set, 25-23. Burchett came up with a couple of big kills down the stretch, and Morgan Johnson had some key sets.

South Laurel faced Southwestern last night for the region title and a trip to the state tournament. The Lady Warriors beat South in the district championship game, so the Lady Cards were going into the match with a little revenge on their mind.

“I think the girls are looking forward to the rematch,” Smith said. “Southwestern has a good team, and we will have to come out and show up ready to play.”

Denis House can be reached at sports@sentinel-echo.com.

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