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Coach Kaye Smith gives her team a talking to during a time out.

In the opening round of the 13th Region volleyball tournament, South Laurel turned in a workmanlike performance. The type of working man that does just enough to get by until it is time to clock out.

“You can’t do that,” South Laurel coach Kaye Smith said. “You have to start out strong.”

Although the Lady Cardinals were never in danger in the 25-13 and 25-6 win over Bell County Monday. They were called into the bosses office when Bell County trimmed the lead to 16-11. In this case, the boss’s office was a quick timeout from Smith.

“We told them we needed to get our act together and play the way we were capable of playing. Get the job done,” Smith said.

There were several milestones in an otherwise uneventful match. Erica Burchett recorded her 400th kill of the season. The junior could challenge for the school record next season. Emily Gaines threatened to break the 400-point mark on serves, but will have to wait one more match. It was also the 300th win for the South Laurel volleyball program.

“It feels great. We’ll work on the next 300 now,” Smith said.

Win No. 300 will not go down as one of the great win’s in South Laurel history. The Lady Cardinals struggled to put together a run of two or more points. The South Laurel lead was a modest six points at 19-13 before Gaines came to life. The Lady Cardinals scored the final six points with three coming on Gaines’ kills. One of Gaines’ rockets hit Bell County’s Megan Lefevers in the leg. Lefevers turned to her bench and mouthed the word, “Ouch.” There wasn’t a lot she could do about it.

Gaines finished the night with nine kills, second only to Buchett’s 12. Setting up those kills were Morgan Johnson with 12 assists and Breanna Allen with 10.

The boss, Smith, didn’t want the second set to be as lackadaisical as the first. She tried a little incentive.

“We set a goal that second set to not let them score no more than eight,” Smith said. “They reached their goal.”

Bell County remained close at 7-4 after two South Laurel kills flew out of bounds. Then the Lady Cardinals got on a roll and it looked like Bell County might not score again.

South Laurel scored the next six before Bell County scratched out a point. The Lady Cardinals then reeled off nine straight points for a commanding 22-5 lead.

“So if we set a goal each game, maybe that will work,” Smith said. “Depending on the level of competition.”

The level of competition gets better right away with the Lady Cardinals scheduled to play Clay County in Tuesday night’s region semifinals. The Tigerettes were not able to take a set from South Laurel in their earlier meeting, but they did win 14 of their 24 matches this season.

“We’ve played Clay County and we know they are a winner, a district winner coming in, and they are probably going to be much more competitive,” Smith said.

Mitch Howard can be reached at mhoward@sentinel-echo.com.

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