The Henry County Lady Cats volleyball team shook off a season ending losing streak to play some of their best volleyball of the season downing the Owen County Lady Rebels 3-1 last week in the 31st District tournament at Carroll County.
That set up a tournament championship match against the tournament hosts. But the Lady Panthers would not be denied the tournament championship, and bested the Lady Cats 3-0, in closely contested games.
The Owen County win also gave Henry County a berth in the 8th Region tournament, where they faced Shelby County. The Lady Rockets, however, shut the door on Henry County’s season Monday night with a 3-0 first-round win.
HCHS 3, Owen 2
The first game was close until the Cats — leading 11-9 — went on a 4-0 run with Savannah Allgeier serving. Owen County called timeout to stop the run and it worked briefly as they got a kill to make it 14-10.
But Megan Peyton got a kill on the next point and Henry County rattled off another 4-0 run to make it 20-10. Owen slowly worked their way back into the game but at 24-21 they were called for a lift and Henry County took the first game.
In the second game, the Lady Rebels recovered and after trailing 6-3 went on a 7-0 run to go ahead 10-6. Coach Katie Ruff called timeout to stop the momentum and it worked — Owen served out on the next play.
But the Lady Rebels quickly recovered and stretched the lead out to 22-14. At 23-16 Kim Barmore got a kill to cut the lead to 6, but Owen’s lead proved too big to overcome and they took the second game, 25-18.
Game 3 was close until Krista Deburger got a tip, Peyton a kill and Deburger another kill to put Henry up 13-9. Owen called timeout and on the next point they recovered the serve on a hit out by Henry County.
Owen closed to 16-14, but two hitting mistakes by Owen sandwiched around a kill by Peyton gave the Cats a 19-14 lead and forced Owen into another timeout. The game stayed between a four to six point margin the rest of the game until Owen served into the net on game point to give Henry the 25-20 win.
In what turned out to be the decisive fourth game, Henry fell behind 10-4, but fought back after the margin stayed at five or six points for some time. At 17-12 Henry reeled off 3 points on two hitting mistakes by Owen and a Peyton kill.
At 20-18 in favor of Owen, Paige Deburger got a kill to narrow the gap to one point. After another hitting error by Owen tied the score at 21, the Lady Rebels called timeout and came back with two points on a hitting error by Henry and a kill by Owen.
Henry called timeout and Krista Deburger got a kill after the break to give momentum back to Henry County. With Molly Williamson serving the Cats got a break on a hitting mistake by the Lady Rebels and Peyton’s kill put the Cats up 24-23. Owen came back with a kill of their own to make it 24 all.
Peyton got another kill and Savannah Allgeier went back to serve with the game on the line. On the final play of the night Paige Deburger got the kill to give Henry County the 26-24 comeback win and the match.
Coach Katie Ruff was pleased with her teams’ effort and felt that focus was the key to the victory. “The girls really wanted to win the game and it showed,” she said. “We worked really hard on some strategies on Monday and Tuesday at practice and went out and executed them well. I also think that we fought a hard battle and never gave up. That is something new for us and it paid off!”
Ruff felt several players stood out as having exceptional games. “I think Savannah (Allgeier) did a great job setting,” she said. “She has been working really hard the last couple of weeks and it showed last night. I also think Megan (Peyton) did a nice job of remaining focused no matter what the score was. Paige (Deburger) had some great hits and dug up a lot of tips. Before the match Krista (Deburger) told them to play like it was their last game and I think they all took her words to heart.”
HCHS 0, Carroll Co. 3
In the district championship game, the Lady Cats found themselves down in every game and trying to fight back But they came up short losing the three-game match by scores of 25-20, 25-23, 25-20.
“We started out the first game a little slow and flustered,” Ruff said. “We seemed to be playing not to lose. I called timeout to try and calm the girls’ nerves and it seemed to work for a while but then we went back to flustered and nervous again. The second and third games were pretty much the same. We just kept trying to come back and we would make great comebacks but we were never really able to gain the lead or control.”
In this match, Reff said fundamentals hurt the team. “Our passing was pretty bad,” she said. “I think the team played not to lose and that really hurts us. Against Owen I saw a team that was there to win, and I am not sure where that team went against Carroll. I hate to say we are young, but I think that had a lot to do with the nerves and playing not to lose. We just don’t have experience.”
HCHS 0, Shelby 3
In the first round of regional play the Lady Cats took on the host Rockets and fell to the much improved team 25-10, 25-18, 25-19. The young Lady Cats ended their season with a record of 7-26 while Shelby moves on to challenge 15th ranked North Oldham in the regional semi-finals. The Rockets’ record stands at 19-6 after winning 15 of their last 16 matches.
Though the score of the first game seems lopsided the Cats got off to a fast start. “The first 7 points of the game were the best we have played since the Owen game,” Ruff said. “We were hustling, had some great passes and hits. From there the girls tensed up. It was kind of like they didn’t think they were supposed to win. We ended up pretty down in the first game.”
The Cats rebounded and played tough in the second and third games, according to Ruff. “The second and third games started off the same, but we were able to come back and fight a little. It just wasn’t enough to beat them.”
Senior Savannah Allgeier helped to rally the Cats in games 2 and 3. Ruff said, “Savannah really hustled and brought us back with some great serves.”
Ruff is already looking forward to next season when her young squad will be more experienced.
“I am proud of the team this year,” she said. “They went farther than anyone expected and, in general, I saw improvements. I am proud of the seniors and I want them to know how much they will be missed. Looking ahead, I am hopeful and ready for the 2013 season!”
Josh Cook of the Sentinel News contributed to this report.
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