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HEBRON ESTATES — While his players were celebrating, North Oldham coach Brian Jones had something clutched in his arms.
He didn’t want to let go of the trophy the Lady Mustangs had just been presented in their 25-15, 25-20 win over Oldham County in the eighth region championship game at North Bullitt.
“I will treasure this trophy,” Jones said. “I don’t even know what to say right now. They showed their character in the districts, coming back in a couple of games. We did the same thing in the second game here, came out, they were ready to play the second game and we weren’t. We finally realized they were ready to play and they stepped up their game.”
North Oldham stepped up from the get-go, scoring the first four points then taking a 12-7 lead that forced a Lady Colonels timeout.
As they did for much of the night, the Lady Mustangs turned to their play at the net. Junior outside hitter Madison Tinder time and again came up with kills and junior right hitter Amanda Marques ended the first game with a block, both recurring themes throughout the night.
The success at the net also created plenty of energy.
“We were loud the whole time,” Tinder said. “Every time we got down on ourselves, we just picked it back up. We never let a mistake bring us down. We always shook it off and we just had a lot of heart.”
When the ball moved past the net, it was senior Jenna Coleman who directed traffic and kept the play alive. Coleman was named tournament MVP for her efforts.
“It’s really important to stay focused in volleyball because it’s such a mental game,” she said. “You have to stay positive and stay up. We kept focus and stayed on what we needed to do.”
Jones said composure was also key for North Oldham. Oldham County took an early 7-3 lead in the second game, before the Lady Mustangs caught up at 8-8, with the teams trading points back and forth.
North Oldham finally broke through with a five-point swing to take a 22-17 lead. During the rally, Lady Colonels senior libero Jordan Wiese was given a yellow card for arguing with an official with the score 19-17.
“It looked like we were nervous and we weren’t all there tonight,” Oldham County coach Callaway Mefford said. “North did their job on their side, they played a good game and we were just more scattered than usual.”
Just as she ended the first game, Marques blocked an Oldham County shot that hit off a Lady Colonel and went into the umpire’s stand to end the match.
“When you see a big 6-foot girl coming a and she knocks one down on a 10-foot line it kinda gets in your head,” Jones said. “We had some girls do that early on and of course it gets in a kids’s head.”
For the third time in four meetings this season, the Lady Mustangs got the best of Oldham County. They’ll now play Letcher County Central at 10:30 a.m. in the state tournament Oct. 28 at Bellarmine. Because of the draw for the tournament, North Oldham will be on the opposite side of the bracket from Assumption, at 38-1, the No. 3 team in the country in ESPN’s latest Powerade Fab 50 poll.
“We have to have a good week of practice before the state tournament,” Jones said. “We need to get a lot of rest. I’ll stress to them all week, you’ve gotta make sure you stay on top of your homework and make sure you stay on top of your sleep.”
The region trophy now rests with the Lady Mustangs.
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