Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

August 28, 2013

VolleyCats rebound from tough weekend with win over Russell

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

RUSSELL — Thanks to some stiff competition, the Ashland VolleyCats never scored more than 13 points in any of the nine single games played over the weekend in Louisville.

Quickly forgotten.

Ashland rebounded with a 3-2 defeat of Russell inside Marvin Meredith Gymnasium on Tuesday night. The VolleyCats broke a three-match losing skid against their rival.

“It’s always competitive with Russell, no matter what,” said Ashland first-year coach Amanda Moore.

Competitive, it was, as the match covered a span of two hours and consisted of 208 total points. The VolleyCats won the first, third and fifth games, 25-21, 25-17 and 15-5, respectively. Russell took two close contests in the second and fourth, winning 27-25 and 25-23.

Ashland (3-3) finished off the Lady Devils with a 7-1 run in the final game, sealed by a Shannon Card tip over the net.

Vivacious senior Hannah Goebel was key for the VolleyCats. The 5-foot-1 libero was active throughout the entire match, hustling and diving to rack up a pile of passes.

“Passing is everything and, honestly, I think she had three or four bad passes the entire five sets,” Moore said. “She’s a great leader in the back row, she’s great with communicating.”

Goebel is one of just three seniors on a highly inexperienced Ashland squad.

“We’re all very new,” Goebel said. “Our team is incredibly young. A lot of people have never played varsity before, and this is their first year.”

Despite their youth, the VolleyCats are 3-0 against area teams. They’ve also beaten Greenup County and Rowan County.

Goebel noticed a key difference in the team, though, on Tuesday against the defending 16th Region champions.

“Our attitudes were phenomenal,” she said. “Usually, if one of us gets down, it starts to affect the rest of us. Tonight, we all stayed good and all stayed together.”

Senior Jessalyn Huff helped close out the first game with a well-placed tip followed by a kill. The VolleyCats used a 10-3 run, boosted by the serving of Megan Hensley, to propel itself to a 1-0 advantage.

Russell battled back, though, despite having to survive a furious VolleyCat comeback in the middle of Game 2. Sara Hieneman’s play at the net and Victoria Behrens’s serves went a long way in helping the Lady Devils withstand the Ashland rally.

The next two games were back and forth, the team serving best winding up with points.

Cassie Fultz tallied three straight aces for Russell in the third game, but Ashland answered with a 10-4 midway through. Hieneman served well in the fourth game for the Lady Devils as they hung on to win by a slim margin.

Ashland freshman Blake Rogers came up with five aces with her serves, as did Card. Another freshman, Megan Murphy, recorded no service errors.

“When our serving was on, we were killer,” Moore said.

A Rogers ace and an ensuing Hensley kill helped Ashland create enough separation in the decisive Game 5. Hensley finished with a team-best nine kills.

“They got some good serves in, and it’s a short game going to 15 points,” said Russell veteran coach Darrell Adkins. “In that short of a game, you don’t have time for long rallies or comebacks. If you get down, the game is over.”

Adkins said his bunch had 17 bad serves, and chalked up youth and timidness as the main reason for Tuesday’s loss. Russell plays several eighth-graders, freshmen and sophomores.

“It’s a long season, and I think we’re going to be pretty good,” Adkins said. “We don’t like losing to Ashland any time, but we’re not looking for arsenic yet, either.”

Russell hosts Raceland in a 63rd District showdown on Thursday. Ashland travels to Lawrence County on Tuesday.

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.