A twisted ankle was a wrong turn, but Shannon Card refused to let it become a dead end.
Card quickly returned from injury to help lift Ashland to a 3-1 victory (25-17, 25-16, 21-25, 25-16) over Fleming County in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals on Wednesday night at Russell’s Marvin Meredith Gymnasium.
Ashland’s talented sophomore setter got tangled up with a teammate, falling to the floor in pain as Ashland trailed the Lady Panthers, 5-3, in the third game. The VolleyCats held a 2-0 lead in the match, but Fleming County took advantage of Card’s absence to win 25-21 and force a fourth game.
Card supplied two of her 10 total service aces during a 9-2 Ashland run to finish off the match. She also tallied 10 assists and five kills.
“She’s the heart and soul of my offense, she runs my offense,” said VolleyCats coach Amanda Moore. “She’s the voice on my team, the loud one on the court, always talking. Without her, we did struggle a little bit.”
Card pleaded with her mother, she said, between the third and fourth games to allow her to get back onto the court. Access was granted.
“I said, ‘Hey mom, can you let me go back in? Amanda’s not going to put me back in unless you let me!’” Card said. “Since we lost the third set, I felt like I could get us back up and help us win the game.”
An Erika Bonner kill accounted for the match point and hoisted Ashland to its fourth region championship game appearance in the last five years. The VolleyCats three-peated from 2009-11. They’ll face Raceland tonight at 7 at Russell for the title.
Ashland dropped both regular season meetings against Raceland, losing 3-0 and 2-0 on Oct. 10 and 12, respectively.
“I’m excited, can’t wait to play them,” Moore said. “We improved from the first time we played them to the second time. It’ll be a fun night.”
Card said the VolleyCats, an overall young squad, have come a long way from the start of the season.
“We started off a really rough team,” she said. “We didn’t have much of a strong defense and offense. We worked our way up.”
“Way back in the summer, I told them, if you want it, and you prove yourself by working hard enough, you have a shot at it,” Moore recalled. “They’ve proved themselves and they got here.”
Ashland (26-12) used three of freshman Blake Rogers’ five aces as a boost in the first game.
Bonner jumpstarted the second game by tallying three kills amidst Ashland’s 10-5 initial spurt.
Cassie Porter and Bobbi Jo Porter came up with important plays to help Fleming County (15-18) to a Game 3 win.
Sparked by a Megan Hensley kill, the VolleyCats finished Game 4 on a 16-7 surge.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.