Knox Central held off the Middlesboro Lady Jackets for a 25-17, 25-17, 19-25, 25-23 win in 13th Region volleyball action on Tuesday.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Knox, but we’re a better team than what we showed in this one,” Middlesboro coach Mike Spradlin said. “These girls are much more talented than they have been and at some point we’re going to break loose.”
After dropping the first two sets, Middlesboro rallied to take the third. They led for much of the fourth set but the serving of Sadie Harris and the net game of Kelsey Engle turned the tide for the Lady Panthers.
Freshman Brooke Foister got the Lady Jackets off to a fast start in the deciding set by serving for an ace. Three kills from senior Karrah Hart put Middlesboro up 7-2 and the lead went to 8-2 after an Adreana Lefevers serve could not be returned by the Lady Panthers.
Kristin Smith won a point for Knox Central to snap the early run, but Middlesboro still led 11-7 after a pair of points by Foister.
It was 13-9 when Harris reeled off six straight service points, including two aces, to vault the Lady Panthers into the lead. Engle had a kill during that run and she and Smith exchanged kills with Hart as the score went back and forth from there.
Foister won a point to bring MHS within 22-21, but a mishit ball fell in to put Knox back up by two. Candice Bruce served up an ace for the Lady Jackets to tie the game, but Middlesboro hit their final two chances out as Knox Central went on to take the fourth set 25-23.
The Lady Jackets were coming off a hard five-set loss at Thomas Walker, Va., on Monday and Spradlin said they just didn’t bounce back with their best effort.
He’s very optimistic about his team this season. The Lady Jackets return all six starters from a year ago. Hart, Foister and senior setter Shea Moyers make up the front line with a strong back court in Bruce, Lauren Padgett and Lefevers.
“We’ve got a tough game on Thursday an then the All ‘A’ at Barbourville on Saturday and I think you’ll see a better team show up for that,” Spradlin added.
Middlesboro (2-6) will play at North Laurel on Thursday while Knox Central (1-1) hosts Lynn Camp.