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SHELBYVILLE – It was simply a matter of keeping everything in focus last Thursday.
Shelby County did. Anderson County didn't.
And with a 4-set victory over Anderson, homestanding Shelby clinched the top seed in the upcoming 30th District volleyball tournament.
Shelby remained unbeaten in district play – Shelby defeated Collins Monday to go unbeaten in district play – and improved to 13-6 on the year. Anderson fell to 3-3 in district play and 15-11 overall. The Lady Bearcats will be either the two- or three-seed in the tournament, but it does not matter as they will play Collins in the first round either way.
Last Thursday, Anderson seemed to have Shelby where it wanted after taking the first game, 26-24. Shelby came back to win the second by the same score, but something happened to Anderson's aggressive plan of attack.
Down 8-7 in the third game, Anderson suddenly saw Shelby run off five straight points and eight of the next 10. For all practical purposes, the Lady Bearcats were done. They fell 25-18 in Game 3 and by the same score in the fourth game. Anderson's only subsequent lead was a short one as the Lady Cats only led 1-0 in Game 4.
Anderson's focus soon became blurry.
“Their focus was lost when (the Lady Bearcats) started dwelling on the mistakes they had made in the past plays,” said Anderson coach Courtney DeLong. “When they mess up, they start to question what they're doing wrong, why they're doing it wrong and how to fix it. This was just one of those situations where they just couldn't get themselves out of the hole they had dug.”
Gone was the confident and aggressive team that had put together a string of eight wins in nine matches earlier this month. Shelby, however, showed that it is ready to reclaim district supremacy. The Lady Rockets silenced any threat of a comeback in Game 3 when junior Kyndle Pace delivered a late kill.
Shelby took control in the fourth set when Ariana Jones served up seven straight points to make it 12-3, then after Anderson whittled into the lead and pulled within 21-18, Shelby Tooke came through with consecutive kills to end any threat of going to a fifth set.
“We had several errors in the last games. I believe the main ones that hurt us were missed serves and communication,” DeLong said. “In the first game that we won, we only had one missed serve. I'm unsure of the last games but there were several between the two.”
Early, Anderson was impressive, getting big games from Shelbi Savoie, Rachel Swartz, Bethany Hardin and Baylee McKenzie at the net.
“Things did click for us in the first game,” DeLong said. “They had a lot of high points throughout the game and maintained a lead for most of the game. Staying ahead is crucial for us as a team. The moment we let any team gain a few points on us we tend to let them back in. Winning is fun and when they don't have so much pressure on them to make a comeback, it's easy for them to get the job done.”
DeLong said her team had several communication errors as well.
“The communication errors were due to the fact that when we get down on ourselves, most tend to get quiet,” she said. “We're working on that communication barrier right now, so hopefully, it will show.”
In other matches last week, the Lady Bearcats split with Henry County and West Jessamine, both by 3-0 scores.
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