LOG MOUNTAIN — The young Lady Cats came out strong Thursday against Jackson County, but the Lady Generals seized the momentum and went on to a 24-26, 25-9, 25-19, 25-19 win over Bell County.
Bell jumped out to quick lead and held on to take the first set 26-24. Sophomore Katie Jarvis and freshman Danielle Parks led the way with their strong play at the net and another sophomore, Morgan Mills, was active along the back line in the opener.
“We came out playing really hard and stepped up the way we normally play,” said coach Amber Hinkle.
It was Jackson taking charge early in the second set as they built an 11-2 lead and never looked back.
“We just got our heads down a little bit and couldn’t fight back in that round,” Hinkle added.
The final two sets were very competitive, but the Lady Cats were forced to play from behind most of the way. Jackson middle blocker Sarah Gabbard was a force at the net for most of the night despite the best efforts of Bell senior Sydney Gray along with Jarvis and Parks to challenge her.
Jackson also held an edge in the service game as they were simply able to get a higher percentage of their serves in as they took set three 25-19.
The Lady Generals pulled ahead 21-12 in the final set, but Gray used some well-placed underhand serves to help Bell string together five straight points to get back in the match. But Jackson was just a little too strong and went on to the 25-19 win.
Hinkle said she’s pleased with how her girls have held up to a tough early season schedule. Even though they’re 1-4, they’ve played toe-to-toe with some to the better teams around the region. She also said her girls are still adjusting to playing five-set matches — which will be used in the regional tournament this year — instead of the three sets Kentucky had used before.
“These three-out-of-five matches are going to absolutely kill us. Not just us, but everybody because we’re not used to it and conditioning becomes a factor,” she said. “We just have to keep working hard. I’m really not concerned with what our record is during the season, we just want to be ready once the postseason gets here. Our motto for this year is: ‘We’re all in it to win it.’ We just want to win this year when it counts.”
Bell County (1-4) hosts Knox Central Monday while Jackson County (2-0) visits South Laurel Tuesday.