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Volleyball: Lady Colonels sweep Ballard, stay undefeated

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By Brad Stephens

BUCKNER – Oldham County volleyball has continued its perfect start to the 2014 season.

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Ballard was the latest to fall victim to the Lady Colonel attack, as OC beat the Bruins 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-15) in straight sets at hime Thursday night.

The Lady Colonels (5-0) have dropped just two sets all season and are ranked No. 9 by the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association. The first week of play has been a good start for an OC team out to defend its first Region 8 title since 2009.

“The team chemistry helps bring everything together,” senior defensive specialist Danielle McCarson said. “Because we all have really good talent all around – passing, setting, hitting.”

OC didn’t dismantle Ballard Thursday but instead turned in a performance coach Vince McDonough called “workmanlike.” The win was also a good warm-up for the Bluegrass Invitational Volleyball Tournament that OC will play in on Friday and Saturday at Lafayette.

“I thought we did exactly what was necessary to win comfortably,” McDonough said. "I think our hitting percentage was down a little bit tonight, other than Kelsey (Miller). Other than that I was really pleased with our serve-receive. I thought we handled a lot of the tight spots pretty well.’

The Lady Colonels got out to a 10-3 lead to begin the match and cruised over the rest of the first set to a 25-18 win.

The second set got a little more precocious. OC pushed its lead to as much as 20-8 after two consecutive Miller kills.

McDonough took Miller and some veterans out for rest. Ballard charged back, going on a 9-2 run to trim the Lady Colonel lead to 22-17.

McDonough put Miller back in and she and her OC teammates finished the job, winning the set 25-17.

“Tonight they seemed to mesh pretty well during the tight times,” McDonough said of his veteran team that includes six seniors and six juniors. “We didn’t panic.

“It’s a little different this year. For the first time I actually have upperclassmen in the lineup. For the past couple of years I’ve had an underclassmen-type team. We’ve got a lot of experience out there.”

The third set was never in doubt, with the Lady Colonels taking it 25-15 to cap a sweep of Ballard.

Miller, a junior committed to the University of Virginia, led OC with 12 kills. Next in that category were junior Taylor Bollman (seven), junior Leah Hollander and sophomore Madelyn Burgess (four) and senior Myah Underwood (three).

Burgess and junior Bailey Smith each and a team-high three blocks.

Burgess was one of several underclassmen, including sophomores Emily Bell and Kylie Cochran, who saw playing time Thursday.

“Emily Bell, Madelyn Burgess and Kylie Cochran played really well,” Miller said. “They each have a role and have the mindset to play up (to the varsity level).”

OC will put its undefeated record to the test in the BIVT.

The Lady Colonels will face Woodford County and No. 23 Lafayette, the tournament host, at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday, respectively.

They could play up to three games Saturday against a field that includes No. 3 Ryle, No. 7 Henry Clay, No. 10 McCracken County, No. 19 Cooper, No. 20 Apollo, No. 21 Simon Kenton and others.

“We would love to finish in the top four for sure but honestly I think we have an outside chance to win it if we play well,” McDonough said. “We know there are two or three teams that can beat us if they’re playing their A-game, maybe.
“But if we match their A-game against our A-game I think we’ve got a pretty legitimate shot to do well this weekend. It’s always one of the toughest tournaments.”