Fairview's volleyball program continued to make strides in the right direction, but Ashland kept up its strong campaign against area teams.
The VolleyCats squashed the Lady Eagles' upset bid with a 3-2 comeback win (22-25, 25-12, 21-25, 25-14, 15-4) on Thursday night at Robert Morrison Memorial Gymnasium. They are now 5-0 against 16th Region foes.
Fairview appeared poised to shock its 64th District rival after taking a 2-1 lead in front of a vocal home crowd bolstered by a spirited Fairview student section. Ashland, though, responded by recording 33 of the final 45 points of the match.
"We didn't really come out with our best at first," said VolleyCats junior Megan Hensley. "We weren't really talking."
Hensley tallied nine kills, second to sophomore Shannon Card's 11 for tops on the night. Two of those led to a pair of the final four points. She credited her teammates' passing for her success at the net.
"There were really good sets and I was just swinging at them," Hensley said.
Card led Ashland (6-3) with 18 assists.
Serving might have been Ashland's strongest point amid its furious rally.
Fairview (6-6) had trouble getting good contact on serves by Hensley and freshman Blake Rogers, especially. Megan Murphy also played a part in fine service, having served for the final 10 points of the match. Rogers had a match-best 12 aces.
"(Murphy) is my most consistent server," said Ashland coach Amanda Moore, adding that the freshman had just one error. "(Hensley and Rogers), they both are killer servers. They can look at me, and I'll tell them where to serve it, and they'll serve it right there."
As pleased as Moore was with her team's resiliency, Fairview coach Lauren Ellis had plenty to smile about, too.
"This is huge for our program, huge for our school," said the second-year Lady Eagles coach. "For Fairview being such a small school, coming out here competing like we did against Ashland, it's such a blessing. It's not about me, it's all of my kids. They want to be here, they're excited to be here."
Sydney Shelton, one of five Fairview seniors, delivered solid serves during the third game to help stake the Lady Eagles to a 2-1 lead.
"Syd Shelton, she's a senior leader who carries us," Ellis said. "She's all-out all the time."
Fairview junior Whitney Mounts drilled some nice hits for kills in the first game, while senior Nikki Gee found no man's land a few times with her swings and tips.
Ashland rebounded with a dominant second game, as two Hannah Goebel service aces spurred an 8-4 run that knotted the match at 1-1.
Fairview won Game 3 as it took advantage of some Ashland mistakes caused my miscommunication. Despite overall strong net play by Danielle Boggs and Jessalyn Huff, a few too many balls fell in between Ashland hitters.
"We were just working on our communication between hitters and setters (during practice this week)," Moore said. "It's something we still have to improve on."
Timing wasn't an issue in Game 4, as a textbook Card-to-Erika Bonner set-and-spike highlighted a 25-14 win.
Finally, the VolleyCats finished off with 10 unanswered points.
Fairview is one win from matching its 2012 season total. The Lady Eagles host Sheldon Clark on Tuesday.
Ashland will compete in the Thoroughbred Smash tournament in Lexington this weekend.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.