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EMINENCE – Everything had come down to one game. After thousands of serves and volleys, only 25 points stood between the end of the volleyball season and moving on.
Anderson County answered Monday night.
After a pair of games that saw 12 ties and 13 lead changes, the Lady Bearcats pulled away from a gallant Henry County team in the 28th District Tournament semifinals at Eminence High School. Hannah Smith and Arianne Riley scored a block on the first point of the third game and the Lady Cats were never as much as tied the rest of the way as they registered a 25-15 victory in the deciding game. Anderson had won the first game, 26-24, but Henry recovered for a 25-20 win in game two.
Lady Bearcat coach Jason McDannold said the win was the result of the challenges that had been set before the Lady Bearcats since practice started on July 15. “Number one, my team has worked hard all season. Second, the schedule we have played prepared us for this.”
Henry seemed to have all the momentum going into the deciding game as the Wildcats had broken a 16-all tie for the Game 2 win.
But Smith and Riley game Anderson the lead and a dink from K.K. Fitzpatrick that made it 4-2 seemed to energize the Lady Bearcats. Henry was never closer than two points the rest of the way.
Defenders Cindy and Sandy Zhang were phenomenal along the baseline. “That's where it all started,” McDannold said. “It all started with the Zhangs and their passing.” Sandy Zhang, the team's libero, came up with eight digs.
Smith recorded 13 kills and staged a duel with Henry's Brittany Crawford at the net. Anderson, however, was playing without Chelsea Payne, who McDannold said, “broke a team rule.”
Bethany Hardin tallied six kills while Sierra Jones recorded five. “They stepped up huge,” McDannold said. “For us to beat a team as good as Henry County without Chelsea Payne was huge, but our schedule got us ready for this.”