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Oldham County’s volleyball team has gained some recognition around the hallways at OC.
“Throughout school people come up to you like, ‘Wow, you guys beat North,’” team member Danielle McCarson said. “That’s an awesome feeling.”
The Lady Colonels indeed took down the Mustangs, 3-1, Oct. 31 in Independence to clinch the team’s first Region 8 title since 2009.
For the first time since that year, OC (31-8) will be playing in this weekend’s state tournament at Valley High School in Louisville.
Their first game comes at 11 a.m. Friday against Hazard. Quarterfinals are played Saturday afternoon, the semifinals that afternoon and the state championship game that night.
“It’s really exciting,” Lady Colonel Jenna Grantz said. “I’m really excited to see how we perform against the teams we haven’t been able to go out and see. I don’t know how far we’ll get but it’ll be exciting for everyone to get the experience.”
OC’s win over North came in the Lady Colonels’ fourth attempt this year.
The Lady Mustangs had previously beaten OC in a regular season tournament, a regular season district match and, most recently, on Oct. 24 in the District 29 title game.
But in the region championship the Lady Colonels controlled the game 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.”
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. 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,” Miller said.
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. Grantz, Miller, McCarson and Marissa Turnage were all named to the all-tournament teams.
“It was exciting to go out with a win like that, especially against our biggest rivals,” Grantz said.
But unlike the Lady Mustangs, Hazard (29-5) is a team with which OC has little familiarity.
The Lady Bulldogs were champions of Region 14, beating Leslie County 3-1 in the region final. Hazard hasn’t played any teams in the Louisville area this season, instead playing teams primarily from the mountains.
Coach Vincent McDonough is tasked with preparing his Lady Colonels for a matchup against a team even he knows little about.
“Other than their record and the schedule they’ve played, that’s really about it,” McDonough said when asked what he knows about the Lady Bulldogs. “At this point in time I guarantee they’ll be ready to play us.”
McDonough also must keep his players from looking past Hazard and onto the challenge that will likely wait in the second round – Mercy.
The Jaguars, who play Wayne County in the first round, made it all the way to the state championship match last year before falling to Assumption.
Mercy figures to be one of the favorites again this time around.
“I think we can keep the kids level-headed enough to say, ‘Hey, we’re got round one to get through before we even think about a Mercy,’” McDonough said. “In the state tournament, everyone you play is going to be up to the challenge.”
Grantz echoed her coach’s thoughts.
“We’re going to take one game at a time right now,” she said.
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