Playing in the first-ever All “A” Classic State Volleyball Tournament, Henry County’s volleyball team won its pool play, advanced to the Gold Division for the top 16 teams and went 3-2 during the two-day event. The Ladycats had the 28th District tournament — which started just a few days later — on their minds, but still left the Mid-America Sports Complex with solid performances after two games Friday night and three games Saturday.
Henry started with a win over Dayton (25-18, 25-10), then took a loss to Betsy Layne (25-11, 25-15) and a win over Bracken County (26-24, 25-19) to win pool 6 and advance to the Gold Division, which included the top two teams from each pool. The tournament that followed was single-elimination to determine the state champion of the smaller 125 schools across Kentucky, but each team was guaranteed at least two games. Henry lost to a tough Caldwell team (25-19, 25-21) to drop to the elimination bracket, then closed out the tournament with a win over Brown (25-9, 25-23).
“To come away with a winning record for the first time we’ve ever played in a tournament like that was good I thought,” Henry coach Jon Kasten said. “We were focused on the district tournament, and said whatever happened in the All ‘A’ happened. I wasn’t happy with how we played, but it was okay for us.”
With the district tournaments starting Monday, some of the teams that qualified elected not to play in the All “A” Classic to prepare for postseason play. Talks are already in place to move the statewide tournament to the middle of the season next year, which Kasten and his Ladycats would prefer. The Cats advanced to the state tournament by winning the 8th Region All “A” Classic last month.
The Ladycats started the All “A” on a good note, back pedaled a little, then regrouped to finish strong. Their worst game of the weekend came against Betsey Lane in a “very winnable game,” Kasten said, while their best game against Caldwell. The Caldwell matchup was Henry’s most important game with it part of the actual single-elmination tourney. Caldwell was the No. 2 seed out of pool 3 behind Newport Catholic — the eventual winner of the entire tournament. Caldwell had three strong hitters, which gave Henry fits all match.
“We got beat, but at the same time I thought we played very well,” Kasten said. “I was happy with our team. We hit the ball hard and made them earn it.”
After the loss, Henry ended the All “A” with a win over Brown, which was a chance for Kasten to rest his top guns and still come away with a victory.
The tournament had a travel-ball atmosphere with more noise than normal and multiple matches going on at once. Typically, eight games were being played at once. Haley Anderson was the only player on Henry’s squad that had played travel ball, Kasten said, which made for a learning experience for the Ladycats.
After the tournament, Henry improved its record to 24-6 overall heading into the 28th District tournament Monday night against Shelby County. The 24 wins are the most in school history.
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