RUSSELL The third line of the chorus of Panic! at the Disco’s “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” was the Russell volleyball team’s slogan on Tuesday.
“Everything’s comin’ up aces, aces,” the lyric states.
Russell racked up 17 of them as the Lady Devils continued the same song and dance this season with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-12, 25-20) defeat of Ashland at Marvin Meredith Gymnasium.
The Lady Devils (11-0) have dropped only two sets all season.
“I’ve always known they’re capable of doing this,” said sixth-year Lady Devils coach Tiffany Perry. “We graduated three last year, but we basically have the same team. I knew we could do this. It’s just about the want to play, the want to win, that I’ve tried to instill in these girls.”
Russell dominated the first two games, 25-13 and 25-12, but Ashland showed some life in the third. When the Volleycats closed the gap to 18-16, the team expressed joy in unison, but the happiness was short-lived.
Russell responded with a 4-1 spurt, capped by a Sadie Hill ace.
Mallory Allen had a thunderous hit at the net just moments later to expand Russell’s third-set lead to 24-20.
Hill and Allen comprise 40% of a promising sophomore group.
“These sophomores really step up when I put them in,” Perry said. “I think we’re still trying to get them there mentally because I think they’re afraid to swing. When they’re afraid to swing, you don’t get many points. They would be lethal at the net if they could just get past the nerves.”
A Kate Ruggles kill closed out the match. She tallied a team-best seven kills, unofficially. McKenna Barfield contributed five plus a pair of blocks. Allen added two blocks to accompany her kill.
“Physically, we’re tall, we have hitters, we have defense,” Perry said. “It’s been really rewarding to watch them step up to the plate when given chances.”
Ashland (7-7) just endured a rough patch of its schedule. The Volleycats dropped a match to Rowan County and two to Russell over the last eight days.
“It’s only going to make us better,” said Ashland coach Sarah Linn. “You can’t play easy teams and expect to get better, especially with a young team.”
Sophomore Bethany Ledford paced Ashland in kills with four on Tuesday.
Linn said she’s witnessed growth in some of the younger Volleycats “because they want to work for it and they know what to work for.”
Said Perry of Ashland: “They’re in a position we’ve been in. Every game I’m impressed by how much more they do. I know (Linn) is going to do great things with the program.”
Ashland will travel to Rose Hill on Thursday. Russell will go to Lewis County.
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