Since returning home from Jeffersontown and the All “A” Tournament, Raceland appears to be on a mission.
The Lady Rams’ volleyball team won its 13th straight since the state All “A” event after taking down Ashland in straight games, 3-0 (25-20, 25-10, 26-24). It marked their 14th consecutive overall.
Raceland coach Jason Clark said the string of wins is good but, as always, his team is looking at higher goals.
“Our goal is we want to win the district and compete for a region title,” Clark said. “This team has it in them to do that.”
Leading the charge for the Lady Rams was senior outside hitter Abby Brogan. Brogan had just five kills, but was a key factor in each game.
Late in the first game, Brogan had two kills, a block and tap over an Ashland player which each resulted in a point.
In the second game, the senior served for six straight points. In the third game, with her team down 24-22, Brogan blocked an Ashland spike which resulted in a point for the Lady Rams and prevented a fourth game in the match.
“Abby is our leader and she’s our heart and soul,” Clark said. “There is no doubt about it. Abby is Abby and she brings it every night in games and in practice. When our girls follow her lead, we’re very, very good.”
Along with Brogan, senior Makenzi Speaks (three kills) and junior Kymbria Williams (seven kills) helped Raceland control the play at the net.
But Ashland, which didn’t have a lead until the third game, continued to try and make things happen on the front line.
Megan Hensley led the VolleyCats with five kills, and sophomores Erika Bonner and Danielle Boggs scored four points on plays at the net.
While Ashland got some good net play, it just couldn’t compare to Raceland’s length.
“(Raceland) is the biggest competition to us in this region,” Ashland coach Amanda Moore said. “I felt like we gave a lot of points away, but they won at the net. They’ve got several girls that can flat out hit.”
The biggest play of the match came from an outside hitter making a great defensive play.
After a long rally between the two teams, an Ashland spike looked like it hit the ground to give the VolleyCats a point.
Williams, though, seemed to get her hand between the floor and the ball, and Raceland was able to score on an Ashland team that appeared to think it had already scored the point.
After that play, Raceland outscored Ashland 15-5 on its way to picking up the most lopsided game in the match.
“Great players make great plays,” Clark said. “We got them all night long from all of our girls. We served the ball well, we attacked well and our setters did a great job. But sometimes you make a play like that, it sparks a game and Williams has the ability to do that.”
After taking the second game by 10 points, Ashland (18-11) gave Raceland a run for its money in the third game. The VolleyCats never trailed by more than three points, and were even up 24-21 with three chances to win, but still suffered their first loss to a region opponent.
With five games to go, including this weekend’s Ashland Invitational, Moore said her team will be ready by the time the postseason comes on Oct. 22.
“I told them ‘You have to play with your heart if you’re going to win,’” Moore said. “We’ve got to get our head right, because volleyball is such a head game. If we get our head right, we can win. But we have to have our head in the game and be 100 percent focused.”
Raceland (27-4) will play two matches in the Ashland Invitational this weekend, and then will have a week off before the postseason begins.
With a week to prepare, Clark said he knows that the season starts all over again on Oct. 22.
“The fun is going to begin again,” Clark said with a laugh. “There are four great teams in our district and there are great players in our district. I can’t be more proud of what these girls have done, and they’ll keep working and getting better.
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.