Lewis County’s volleyball team wants to win 26 matches this season.
The Lady Lions are 53.846154 percent of the way thanks to Tuesday's 3-1 (22-25, 25-16, 25-10, 25-15) win over visiting Russell.
“It is pretty good,” sophomore libero Ashley Parson said. “It's not a bad start … We set our goals high.”
A better description was — a historic beginning.
Lewis County (14-5) has won nine of its last 12 matches. The Lady Lions are 1-1 against Russell this season, but there is a larger milestone — last night was the first win over Russell since 2002.
What did Lady Lions coach Nellie Book see?
“The desire and just the the determination to push through,” she said. “Usually when we played Russell, my girls would see the name ‘Russell,’ and they folded. (Last night) they didn't fold; they played their hearts out.”
Three Lady Lions were major kill contributors: junior Dedrea Stone led her team with 11; sophomore Courtney Wright added eight; and sophomore Chelse Parks had seven.
And Parson? An 11-point run on her serve closed out the match.
“I was nervous,” she said. “I didn't want to serve it out.”
Russell (8-10) has four seniors, four sophomores and three freshmen. Coach Darrell Adkins said before the match that freshman hitter Sara Hieneman and sophomore Emma Ison are among the best players in the 16th Region.
Afterward, Adkins was more critical of his team overall.
“Lewis just made more plays than we did, pure and simple,” he said. “They made more plays, they passed everything we hit, they got their serves in, they kept hustling.
“Balls that were going in the bleachers, our girls were clapping their hands and celebrating, and Lewis was getting the ball back over the net. We'd already quit; we didn't play until the whistle.”
Lewis County is even younger. Casey Caudill is the only senior on the roster to go with two juniors, seven sophomores, five freshmen, an eighth-grader and a seventh-grader.
The Lady Lions took an 18-14 first-game lead — and then watched the Lady Devils take the game with an 11-4 run. Book was afraid an old problem had returned.
Stone said the problem was vocal as much as physical.
“We didn't talk very much,” she said. “Our passes weren't there. (Russell) played a great game.”
Book was afraid another meltdown had begun, and she didn't want her team to see her sweat. She reminded her players about what they did in a Sept. 5 match against Raceland, even though Lewis County lost in five games.
“They hustled to every ball, even those balls that are coming full force at them,” Book said. “They got under them, they made a pass and they returned it with a hit, and that's all that I could ask for.”
Lewis County resoundingly answered with a 13-4 second-game run. Stone provided touch — a dink over Russell's front line into the middle of the defense — and power when her kill put her team ahead 22-11.
Russell took a 4-1 third-game lead on Ison's kill, but Lewis County about as quickly scored the next 11 points. One play stood out: with the score 7-4, Wright defeated two Lady Devil blockers when she took a lot off her hit, which led to a shot into the net.
The Lady Devils' Cassie Fultz opened the fourth game with an ace and a service winner, part of a 5-1 streak, which Russell expanded to an 11-5 lead.
Stone's block pulled Lewis County to 14-13, but Hieneman's hit forced her to block the ball out of bounds.
From there — all Lewis County.
Stone's kill made it 23-15. Two points later, Wright's spike closed out the match.
“I serve straight on and put a little (counterclockwise) spin on it, and try to hit the holes,” Parson said.
Parson's right hand noticeably shook after the match, and she jokingly wondered how long it would continue.
“Probably until (this morning),” Parson said, “once I realize we actually won.”
Lewis County’s volleyball team wants to win 26 matches this season.
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VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
- Fleming hangs tough to beat Lewis Fleming County locked into another fight against Lewis County, which beat the Panthers earlier this season, before winning 66-58 on Monday in Morehead. Wilder Williams posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Panthers, who face Ashland on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
- GALLERY: Ashland gets by Greenup County, will meet Fleming in region final Ashland's Steven Friley scored 21 points Monday to lead the Tomcats to an 81-61 win over Greenup County in the 16th Region semifinal in Morehead.
Kittens clamoring for more at state
Ashland girls basketball coaches went the extra mile, and a whole bunch more, to get a first-hand scouting report on the Kittens’ opponent for the State Tournament.
Head coach Bill Bradley and assistant Phil Wittich drove all the way to Henderson — 5 hours, 20 minutes one way Bradley said on the way home — to take in Sunday’s Second Region championship game.
Henderson County, playing on its home floor, defeated University Heights 67-54. The Lady Colonels went unbeaten in their region this season and are 24-5 overall.
EKC hands out hardware
The Eastern Kentucky Conference handed out its 2014 awards on Monday afternoon at a luncheon at Carter Caves.
Barracudas earn kudos from coach
Ashland Area YMCA swimmers impressed coach Ryan Ferguson from start to finish in the three-day Kentucky Y Competitive Swim League State Meet.
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