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SHEPHERDSVILLE - The Bullitt East Chargers finished off its fifth straight district volleyball title in convincing form Thursday night.
By virtue of winning the 27th District title, the Chargers will have the opportunity to host the Eighth Region tournament, starting on Monday in Mount Washington.
The 25-11, 25-15 victory over North Bullitt should send Bullitt East into the regional tournament as one of the teams to beat.
“We played well as a team,” said Charger coach Michelle Gajdik. “We were ready to play.”
One thing she wanted her team to concentrate on in the finale was serving. Some extra practice the night before paid off.
At least nine points were won in the first game off service winners or an ace.
“We knew we were going to have to serve well,” said Gajdik.
After playing a routine match against Spencer County in the tourney opener, she said the Chargers knew they would to step it up a notch in the championship game against a North Bullitt team that had won one of the three meetings this season.
After Jade Troutman’s ace, the Chargers were up 15-2 in game one.
It was a deficit the Eagles could not come back from.
“We would have liked to have gotten a better start,” said Eagle coach Jenette Pryor, in her first year at the helm. “I think we were a little nervous. “Bullitt East served well and they have a very good team.”
North Bullitt did make a run at the end of the first game and Pryor said that helped to calm her players down a little.
Playing a team with the tradition of Bullitt East can play mind games on other squads, admitted Pryor. But she was very pleased with the recovery in the second game of the match.
North Bullitt never had a lead in the two games but got the score to within 9-8. From that point on, tourney Most Valuable Player Chelsey Smith a pair of points and Bullitt East never looked back.
With a lot of experienced players, who are also used to playing together in basketball, Gajdik didn’t worry about a letdown after the first game.
“They want to win,” said Gajdik. “They have enough experience to know what to do.”
Plus, she knew that North Bullitt would pick up its game.
“We were a little flat on Tuesday,” said the veteran coach. “Tonight, we were ready to play.”
In analyzing her team, Gajdik said the players are tall and athletic but also play very strong mentally.
“You have to have both,” Gajdik said of the mental and physical part of the sport.
Pryor agreed that the Chargers pose challenges for most teams. But she was also very pleased with the progress made by her squad as it will return to the regional tournament once again.
After defeating the host Bullitt Central squad in the opener, Pryor said her team didn’t play as well as it could in the final. But she also credited Bullitt East for having something to do with that.
Looking ahead to the regional action, Pryor was excited about North Bullitt’s chances.
“We’ll be ready,” said Pryor, whose team is now 9-11 on the year.
For Gajdik, it is great for all the volleyball programs in the county to have the opportunity to host the regional. In the past couple of years, Bullitt East and North Bullitt players and fans have traveled to northern Kentucky.
This week, those teams will be coming to Mount Washington.
“It’s great for the entire county,” said Gajdik. “We have great parents and staff at Bullitt East. They’ll take care of putting on the tournament.”
That will leave time for the Chargers to get prepared to face the likes of North Oldham, Scott County and Anderson County.
“This is the best group of girls I’ve ever coached,” said Gajdik. “I feel really good (about the regionals). There’s another level of play that we have left for the regionals.”
Members of the championship Chargers include Chelsey Smith, Meredith Polson, Samantha Johnson, Jade Troutman, Amanda Sherlock, Kayla Thacker, Brittany Gajdik, Jackie Stevens, Shayna Rice, Lyndsey O’Brien, Paige Downs and Megan Willey.
Members of the North Bullitt team includes: Leanna Valla, Jordan Vincent, Rachael Fulkerson, Sara Schott, Shelby Holsclaw, Sasha Hughes, Brandi Finn, Hannah Scott, Cecilia Boston, Marissa Brown, Kayla Marion, Melanie Zierten, April Howard, Deven Benz, Autumn Allen, Morgan Keown, Kiersten June, Lauren Vinson, Kelsi Hill, Brittany Farnsley, Hannah Wallace, Caitlin Crowder, Breann Showalter, Kelsey Hall, Samantha Eger, Emily Hill, Kaelyn Glenwater, McKenzie Eskridge and Samantha Henson.