The Harlan County Lady Bears wrapped up the number one seed for the 52nd District volleyball tournament with Tuesday’s 25-20, 25-8, 25-20 win at Bell County.
Harlan County (14-7, 5-0 in district play) jumped out quickly in the opening set and held on for a 25-20 win. The Lady Cats (11-12, 3-2) never got on track in the second set as the Lady Bears rolled to a 25-8 win in that one. The third set saw Bell battle back from early deficit to take a 20-14 lead, but Lauren Lee closed out the match with ten straight service points to give Harlan County the sweep.
“We can’t come in and have a first set as a practice match, we have to come in with our heads on straight and ready to play volleyball,” Lady Cat coach Amber Hinkle said. “We had trouble returning their serves, that was probably what saved the game for them. (Chyanna Harris) had eight straight against us at one point. I finally had to take a time out and say, ‘Hey, get back to fundamentals. Get your body square with the net. Don’t swing through when you dig the ball.’”
With Lee serving early in the final set, the Lady Bears scored three straight points to take a 5-2 lead. Bell County responded with their best stretch of the night.
Senior setter Kaylynn Gibson pushed a set past the Harlan County front line for a kill and junior Katie Jarvis fired off two serves that the Lady Bears weren’t able to return. A kill from Katelyn Reynolds put Harlan County back on top 6-5.
Lady Cat senior Courtney Cinnamon came on to serve down 7-6 and reeled off four straight service points: Danielle Parks won a point at the net, the Lady Bears hit on into the net and then failed to return two serves. Whitney Stevens broke that string by getting a spike just in along the back line and Bell’s lead was 11-8.
Morgan Mills provided two service points for the Lady Cats and when Cinnamon dug out a Stevens’ serve and placed it in between two Harlan County players the lead was 16-14.
Caitlyn Zachery came on to serve and the Lady Cats put up four straight points. Zachery dropped an ace in along the left sideline and Megan King and Jarvis both had kills during the spurt as the lead grew to 20-14.
A bad serve put the ball in Lee’s hands and she was able to close out the match. The 10-0 run included six serves that the Lady Cats weren’t able to return, a spike that went long out of bounds and a little set kill from Reynolds that caught Bell off guard.
“We had Katie and Danielle going up for some good blocks. But we have to learn to cover when we go up those blocks, we have to stay on our toes and be ready to move either way,” Hinkle added.
The Lady Cats are off the rest of the week as Bell County has their fall break. They’ll return to action on Monday at Corbin and can clinch the number two seed in the district with a win next Tuesday at Middlesboro.
Harlan County visits Middlesboro on Thursday.