Fourth time's the charm

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OC volleyball beats North to win Region 8 crown

By Brad Stephens

INDEPENDENCE – The schedule will show 2013's Oldham County volleyball team lost three of its four matches against rival for North Oldham. All the Lady Colonels will care about is that the one win came in the team's most important meeting of the year.

OC finally took down the Lady Mustangs Thursday night in the Region 8 volleyball championship, 3-1, at Joe Stark Memorial Gymnasium at Simon Kenton High School.

The win clinches the Lady Colonels' first state tournament since 2009. OC (31-8) will take on Region 14 champ Hazard (29-5) at 11 a.m. Nov. 8 at Valley High School in Louisville.

“This is the result of everything we've been working on, since really back in April,” OC coach Vincent McDonough said. “The girls started to buy in toward the end of the season a lot more, and once we got the buy-in basically solidified it made this possible.”

The Lady Colonels had failed to win the first set their last two meetings with North (26-10), dropping the first sets 25-15 and 27-25 in the regular season district meeting and District 29 championship, respectively. OC had gone on to lose both those matches, as well as a September match in the Jefferson County Invitational Tournament.

Thursday the Lady Colonels reversed that trend out of the gates.

OC controlled the first set from the opening serve, racing to a 6-0 lead and forcing North to call a timeout. The Lady Colonels never looked back, taking the first set 25-10.

“Mentally I thought we were prepared,” North coach Brian Jones said. “But they just, they came ready to play. It showed in the first set. The first set got pretty ugly... When you're back on your heels, it's hard to recoup all the way.

North had the lead throughout the early part of the second set before a Myah Underwood kill put Oldham up 14-13. OC took control from that point, winning the set 25-18.

Down 2-0, the Lady Mustangs began looking like the two-time defending Region 8 champs in the third set. Mikaela Beyea, Casey Foote, Hailey Foote and other Lady Mustangs took over the course of play.

North grew its lead to as much as 14-4 before OC battled back to within four at 22-18. But the Lady Mustangs were able to finish off the third set, 25-19, to cut their deficit to 2-1.

North again came out firing in the fourth set, rushing out to a 13-9 lead. That's when OC started showing better focus on its serves, Lady Colonel Kelsey Miller said.

“When we started to serve... I think we kind of got them out of their system,” said Miller, who was named to the all-region team.

Jones also saw that trend, he said.

“They have some really good servers,” Jones said. “They started serving well toward the end of that fourth set... We didn't handle it very well. We couldn't push the ball up to our setter, couldn't run our offense. Anytime you can't run your offense, it's not going to be great.”

OC went on a run to take a 20-17 lead, then finished things off to win the fourth set 25-19 and clinch the Region 8 title.

McDonough credited Miller, Marissa Turnage, Danielle McCarson and Jenna Grantz with all having strong tournaments.

“Everything just kind of clicked,” McDonough said. “I think we knew the fourth time coming around, the matches had been so close. It's so hard to beat someone three times in a row when it's that close. I knew four times in a row, getting them on a neutral court, I thought we had a great shot.”