Mercy once again turns back East

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By Mike Farner

 OKOLONA – Bullitt East’s dreams of upsetting powerful Mercy will have to wait another week after the state’s top-ranked team beat the Lady Chargers 25-7, 25-13, 25-14 on Tuesday in the championship game of the 24th District Volleyball Tournament at Whitefield Academy.

     Still, both teams advance to this week Sixth Region Tournament. Bullitt East and Mercy could meet on Halloween night in the championship contest.

     What worked the night before against a good Whitefield team in the tournament semi-finals, didn’t work against a great team. With a 33-1 record, Mercy is ranked third in the nation this week.

     “They are a very good team and their ranking is well deserved,” Bullitt East head coach Ed Fisher said after the match. “I told our girls to go out and have fun and use it as a learning experience.

     “I told them the odds of us winning were slim,” the coach said honestly. “What you can get out of this is that a great team like that will expose your weaknesses so you know what you need to work on this week.”

     Mercy had defeated Bullitt East in straight games early in the season and the Jaguars beat the Lady Chargers last season in their only meeting.

     “I think they believed we had an outside chance,” Fisher said of his team’s mindset before the match began.

     Against Whitefield Academy, Bullitt East had prepared for a week for a team that was tipping the ball over the blocks, looking for open spaces. That worked out just fine for the Lady Chargers.

     Mercy on the other hand plays a power game. They were setting to kill it.

     “There is nothing you can do when they hit it a foot over the block,” Fisher said. “We did a pretty good job digging some of those hits, but they just kept it going.”

     The loss snapped a 15-game winning streak for the Lady Chargers dating back to Sept. 28 and a loss to Whitefield in the Jefferson County Invitational Tournament. Bullitt East now stand 27-9 heading into the Sixth Region Tournament.

     On Tuesday, just 24-hours after they had upset Whitefield Academy in the tournament semi-finals, Bullitt East never really could make a run at the Jaguars. The only Lady Charger lead in the entire match came in the third game at 3-2. Other than that, Mercy led the whole way.

     The Jaguars scored the first three points of the match including a pair of ‘aces’ to get the match going their way early. Still, it was 12-6 before Mercy scored 13 of the next 14 points to take the game. The last three Mercy points came on serving ‘aces’.

     It was 2-2 in the second game before Mercy started to pull away again. This time there was no extended scoring runs as the Jaguars could not score more than four straight points.

     Through the first two games, Bullitt East won just two points off their own serve.

     The Lady Chargers played hard throughout the match as they did once again get to double-digits in the third game before falling 25-14.

     Fisher had a good spin on playing Mercy at this point in the season.

     “We had a few blocks on them and we rallied with them,” the coach said. “I think the girls figured out that there were times we were playing with them. We also know that everybody else we play will be a lesser team.”

     Fisher was going to give the team a day off on Wednesday and then get back in the gym on Thursday. On Friday, the Lady Chargers learned that they will be playing at Holy Cross on Monday in the opening match of the Sixth Region Tournament against the host school.

     Bullitt East lost to Holy Cross 26-24, 25-15 back in the second week of the regular season. The Lady Chargers had some injuries at that point and are playing much better at this point in the season.

     At the trophy presentation after the match on Tuesday, Bullitt East seniors Shelby Graham and Morgan Lucas were named to the 24th District All-Tournament squad.