In a confusing one-day tournament held on Saturday which was supposed to guarantee each team at least three matches, the Henry County volleyball team played just two matches, defeating both Trimble County and host Carroll County to win the Carroll County Invitational championship.
After the first-round of matches, the teams were split into two separate brackets with Henry receiving a bye in what was supposed to be its opener. The Ladycats then defeated Trimble County, 2-0, in the semifinals at 1 p.m., and waited five hours before defeating Carroll, 2-0, for the title. It improved the Cats to 12-5 this season.
“This was a tournament that we felt was ours to lose,” Henry coach Jon Kasten said of the seven-team tourney. “If we didn’t win it, we knew we would have nobody to blame but ourselves. But of course it’s always nice to win a tournament. It’s a goal of ours in every one we’re in.”
Kasten said Karie Powell had a great day for his squad but that, all around, each player stepped up. The big team goal going in was to get every player involved, and the Ladycats did just that. Strong-side hitter Haley Anderson had to leave the tournament following the team’s semi-final win after she wasn’t feeling well, which brought Tyler Sadler to strong-side in the finals. Also, Brittany Crawford dominated at the net up front to give Henry a boost in the championship contest.
Henry won its opening match, 21-18 and 21-11, in the best-of-three series to advance to the finals. The Henry players had a hard time loosening up against Trimble, though they were very focused.
“A lot of our girls came out and were trying to figure out what to do to get ready for the game, which was good,” Kasten said. “They might have been a little too focused, though. It didn’t seem like they were having any fun out there. We struggled at times and worked through it. We talked between games about enjoying ourselves.”
After the long break, the Ladycats were back on the floor again in the finals against the host school. The Cats won the first game, 21-13, and the second, 21-18, to win the Carroll match and tournament.
“Our biggest problem was having to wait as long as we did between matches,” Kasten said. “I thought we played well, even without Anderson, who is our biggest outside threat. Sadler came in and did a wonderful job. Carroll has a good team.”
Leading up to Saturday’s tournament, the Ladycats game against Anderson County last Monday was canceled and they lost a close match against Shelby County on Thursday in what Kasten calls his team’s best performance since he started coaching the squad.
Shelby won the first game 25-20, Henry won the second 25-13 and Shelby won the third 27-25 in a back-and-forth contest with lots of long volleys and little separation.
“That was an amazing game,” Kasten said. “That was probably the best volleyball I’ve ever been a part of. The only bad thing was the outcome. The quality of play was very high.”
In the match-deciding third game, Shelby was in front 21-8 before Henry came back to take a 24-23 lead. Henry had two match-point attempts on serves — at 24-23 and 25-24 — but could not execute thanks to strong play from Shelby, who ended up winning by just two points.
“We were hitting the ball very hard and they were hitting the ball very well,” Kasten said. “Both teams also had some amazing tips and were able to keep the ball up. It was just a great game from both schools.”
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