Being a volleyball team in the 6th Region is not easy

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By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE – Life is tough in the Sixth Region, especially if you are a volleyball coach.

     That fact was true long before the three Bullitt County schools joined the Sixth Region for volleyball last season.

     Just call it the Mercy rule.

     That is the Mercy Jaguars. The school just dominates volleyball on the west side of Jefferson County. For the last ten years (and longer, I just stopped researching it after looking at ten years) Mercy has won every Sixth Region volleyball title. Most of the time it wasn’t even close.

     Mercy won the Kentucky State Championship in 2009 and since then has been the runner-up in the state tournament two other times. It’s not just programs in western Jefferson County and Bullitt County they are harassing.

     When the most recent realignment was implemented two years ago for basketball and last year for volleyball, soccer, softball and baseball (baseball is out of this discussion since Mercy is a girls only school), it was expected that Mercy would be the team to beat.

     Actually, it didn’t start out that way as Butler upset Mercy in that first Sixth Region basketball final. That might not have been such a good idea. Last year, Mercy won the Sixth Region title in all four sports (beating Bullitt East in the regional soccer final).

     Still, while Mercy may occasionally lose to Sixth Region foes in some sports, volleyball is not one of them.

     Honestly. At this point in time, Bullitt County teams have no chance to win a regional volleyball title. You hate to admit it or even write it, but it is true. And it’s not just the three Bullitt County schools. No other school in the Sixth Region has a snowball’s chance of beating the Jaguars in that sport.

     I could easily make the argument that North Bullitt and Bullitt East were the third and fourth best teams in the Sixth Region last year. That is of little consolation when you consider how far in front Mercy was last year.

     Bullitt East of course got the blunt of the realignment as they are now in the 24th District along with Mercy as well as Whitefield Academy, Jeffersontown and Fern Creek. In volleyball, Whitefield Academy was the second best team in the Sixth Region last year. So, not only do the Lady Chargers have to get to Mercy’s level, they first have to get past Whitefield.

     Just getting past Whitefield would be a huge step. While lacking in many sports, Whitefield has put a lot of emphasis on volleyball. They beat Bullitt East during the regular season last year and then had the two losses to Mercy. Volleyball just has a firm foundation in parochial schools.

     First, Bullitt East this year can’t afford an upset loss during the regular season within the district, something that happened last year when they were lost to Jeffersontown. That put the Lady Chargers in the number four spot in the five-team district. That meant that after beating Fern Creek in the first game of the district tournament, they had to face Mercy. Not good.

     If the Lady Chargers can beat Fern Creek and Jeffersontown in the regular season, then they would be in the semi-finals across from Whitefield, a much better foe. A win would then put them against Mercy in the final, but they would advance to the regional tournament.

     That would be a good first step.

     Some good news? Bullitt East should be right with Mercy later this school year in both basketball and softball.