LOUISVILLE - Sometimes, the other team is just better.
That was the case last Tuesday as Bullitt East saw the 2012 volleyball season come to an end with a 25-5, 25-6, 25-9 score to state-power Mercy in the semi-finals of the 24th District Tournament on the Jaguars’ home floor.
“Oh yeah, no doubt,” Bullitt East head coach Ed Fisher said after the loss to Mercy. “Tonight was just one of those nights.”
When realignment of volleyball moved Bullitt East into the same district as Mercy, matches like this one were what was feared.
Mercy is one a small handful of teams that enters every season as a contender for a state championship. The Jaguars did that in 2009 and they were the runners-up in 2010. This year, Mercy is ranked among the top five teams in the state.
Needless to say, in the new Sixth Region, the Jaguars will be overwhelming favorites to advance to the Kentucky State Tournament as no other team in the region is ranked in the top-25.
And it wasn’t just Bullitt East that Mercy was beating handily. In the championship match two nights later, the Jaguars rolled past a strong Whitefield Academy squad 25-11, 25-20, 25-6.
Bullitt East knew the mountain they would have to climb against Mercy when the new alignment was announced. The hope was that the squad could do well enough to stay away from the state powers until the championship game and then get another chance in the regional final.
That didn’t happen this year as the Lady Chargers struggled early in the season, falling to Whitefield Academy and later Jeffersontown (a team that Bullitt East later beat). Those losses dropped Bullitt East to fourth in the seeding process and into the same half of the bracket with Mercy.
Bullitt East did get a win earlier on Tuesday as they beat Fern Creek 25-23, 25-16, 27-25, but that only set up the inevitable.
“I just told the girls that I was proud of them,” Fisher said. “They played better against Mercy than against Fern Creek. They just went through the motions against Fern Creek. Mercy is just a better team.”
Fisher was hoping that the regular season meeting with Mercy had taken away any of the ‘awe and shock’ value of facing a team that Bullitt East had never played before this season. That didn’t really happen.
“Our girls were loose,” Fisher noted. “They felt no pressure to do well. It was like just play and have fun tonight.”
Mercy scored the first 11 points of the match. Fisher called a time-out when it was 8-0 but that didn’t help.
In the second game, the Lady Chargers were within 10-6 and seemed able to play with the Jaguars when suddenly Mercy scored 15 consecutive points.
The only lead that Bullitt East had at all in the match came when junior Morgan Lucas served an ‘ace’ for the first point of the third game. Mercy then reeled off eight straight points and there was nothing the Lady Chargers could do.
With the win over Fern Creek, Bullitt East did get to the 20-win plateau that was a goal when the season started. The Lady Chargers finished with a 20-15 record.
“Overall, for the most part, I’m pleased,” Fisher concluded of a team that will lose four seniors. “We have a good base for next year. I look forward to all the girls coming back next year.”
Getting away from the highly competitive Ninth District to the new districts in Louisville didn’t help any of the local boys’ soccer teams.
Overall, it was just not a strong season for the programs in the area.
In the semi-finals of the 24th District Tournament last Tuesday at Whitefield Academy, Bullitt East lost to Fern Creek 5-0. The two teams had played a strong match a month earlier with the Tigers pulling out a 3-2 victory.
Coach Mike Brangers’ Bullitt East squad won just five matches this season, but Brangers did get his 100th victory as the Charger head coach when they beat Bardstown 3-0 in late September.
In the 24th District final, Fern Creek upset Whitefield Academy 1-0.
After beating Bullitt Central 2-0 in the opening game of the 23rd District Tournament at Moore, North Bullitt came back a day later and lost 4-1 to Southern in the semi-finals.
During the regular season, North Bullitt had lost to Southern 5-1.
Coach Chris Bass’ team won just two matches this season and both of those wins were over Bullitt Central.
The good news is that all three local boys’ teams return a lot of players for next season.