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Lady Chargers hit the wall in region opener

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By Mike Farner

SHELBYVILLE - The Bullitt East Lady Chargers ran into a wall, literally, on Tuesday in the first round of the Eighth Region Tournament at Shelby County High School.

That led to a disappointing finish to a strong season as the Lady Chargers lost a heartbreaking 25-22, 18-25, 25-18 decision to Anderson County, a team they had beaten in two games during the regular season.

This year’s regional was being held at Shelby County after that squad won the 29th District Tournament. The lay-out of the volleyball court at that school is off-set to one end of the gym because of a low-hanging overhead scoreboard for basketball. Because of that, one endline of the volleyball court is just eight feet away from a wall.

That situation caused problems for both teams as it eliminates any jump serving. Each player is limited to about one step and then an overhand serve.

The two teams split the first two games with each winning on the ‘open’ end of the court. There was then a coin-flip before the deciding third game. Anderson County won that toss and without hesitation took the open court end instead of serving first.

Still, it wasn’t one of Bullitt East’s better performances of the season. The hopes were much higher after coach Michelle Gajdik’s team had won its sixth straight district crown a week earlier.

“This was not what I was hoping for,” Gajdik said as her team cleaned its bench. “You have to go with it. It is what it is.”

Anderson County is a formidable foe and has one of the area’s top players in senior Hannah Smith and she continually matched Bullitt East’s power at the net.

“I knew it would be tough,” Gajdik said of facing the Lady Bearcats who had a 17-15 mark entering the tournament. Anderson County lost to eventual champion Oldham County in the semi-finals 24-hours later.

In the first game, Bullitt East fell behind 11-5 and 20-13 before making a strong rally before coming up short 25-22. The Lady Chargers then jumped on top 4-2 in the second game and never trailed, pulling away to their biggest lead at the end of the 25-18 game.

Then came the lost coin flip.

Still, Bullitt East led 4-3 and 8-4 in the deciding game before Anderson County nine of the next 11 points to take the lad for good. The Lady Chargers were still within 19-16 before the Lady Bearcats scored five straight points on Smith’s serving to seal the 25-18 victory.

“It was really sad for our seniors,” Gajdik said of the loss. It’s really sad to see them go. Good tings will be in their futures.”

Senior Jade Troutman has been in the Lady Charger program for six years while senior Brittany Gajdik and Samantha Johnson joined the team the following season. They were joined later by Amanda Sherlock and Tori Kute.

Bullitt East finished the season with a 22-10 mark.

At the end of the event on Thursday, Troutman was named to the All-Tournament squad.