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North holds off furious BC rally in volleyball

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By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE – Playing for the second time in 10 days, the outcome was much the same on Monday as North Bullitt pinned a second defeat on arch-rival Bullitt Central in five games.

North Bullitt, after winning the first two games in convincing fashion, had to pull it back together in the final game to win 15-6. The final score was 25-13, 25-16, 17-25, 17-25, 15-6.

This was the third meeting of the season between the two district rivals and each has gone to the final game. Bullitt Central won a best of three match in the Bluegrass State Games before North Bullitt has won consecutive best of five contests in the regular season.

The teams could very well meet again in the 23rd District Tournament championship game on Oct. 24, a tourney that will be hosted by Bullitt Central.

What wasn’t on the line in this match was any outside meaning as the seeding for the district tournament had been decided in the first meeting of the regular season at North Bullitt. Instead, this was just a meeting for pride.

That was also obvious as the contest lacked the intensity, both on the court and in the stands, of the meeting at North Bullitt 10 days earlier.

The match appeared headed for a quick finish as North Bullitt jumped out to early leads in both of the first two games and then coasted to the 25-13 and 25-16 scores. The only time the Lady Eagles trailed in the first two games was at 1-0 in the second game.

The green and gold were then ahead 11-7 in the third game before Bullitt Central battled back into the match. North Bullitt head coach Scott Whitlow had called a time-out when the home team had scored four of five points to get within 8-7. After the break, North Bullitt won three straight points and seemed back in control.

However, Bullitt Central had different plans. The Lady Cougars scored three straight points before North Bullitt got a side-out. A serve into the net gave the ball back to the home team and they scored seven straight points. The lead would stay at least at four points the rest of the game.

In the fourth game, North Bullitt did get the first point and the game was tied at 4-4 before four straight points by the Lady Cougars put them ahead for the rest of the game. At one point, Bullitt Central was up 20-10 before coasting to the 25-17 win.

That set up the winner take all fifth game. The two teams exchanged the first two points, but then North Bullitt sophomore Devyn Thompkins got hot with her serve. She served four ‘aces’ on four of her five serves before Bullitt Central could get the serve back. By then it was 7-2 and the Lady Cougars never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

“Hitting errors and dropped balls and missed serves. We just folded,” Whitlow said as he pointed to his score sheet in the third and fourth games. “The third and fourth games were loaded with our errors.”

North Bullitt had seven service errors in the third and fourth games after only having two in the first two games.

“Like we talked about after the last meeting, when we serve well and hit our zone, we’re a good team,” Whitlow pointed out. “We have to serve well.”

Bullitt Central and North Bullitt will always be a rivalry even if very little is on the line.

“I think we came out ready to play,” Whitlow said. “We just laid down a little in the third and fourth games. We’ve had a problem closing all year.

“I think I saw the same thing out of them,” the coach said of the two regular season meetings. “In the third and fourth games they might have run more attacks. They took the game to us.”

Bullitt Central head coach Katie VanVactor was pleased with her teams rally, but wants to see the team play better at the outset of matches.

“We just had a slow start in the match,” she said. “It’s a maturity thing that we have to work on.

“We have a lot of nervous energy,” VanVactor noted. “They want to win so bad. They don’t want to make a mistake. It’s more a maturity with our program than the players.”

North Bullitt moved to 12-12 with the victory. The only match the team played since beating Bullitt Central the first time was a victory against Spencer County by a 25-14, 25-19 score. The Lady Eagles also picked up a forfeit win over Evangel.

It appears that Evangel will not compete in the 23rd District Tournament this year after hosting the event last season.

“We’re playing better, but I wouldn’t say well,” Whitlow said of his team overall.

Bullitt Central matched its win total from last year with five when they defeated district-rival Southern last week by a 25-23, 25-17 score. The Lady Cougars were down by ten points in the first game before rallying to win.

With the win over Southern, Bullitt Central secure the number two seed in the district behind North Bullitt. Moore and Southern were scheduled to play on Monday to decide the third and fourth spots in the field.

It was still not known on Monday if Evangel was going to play in this year’s tournament and accept the number five seed. That team has forfeited its matches to the other district squads but has been playing some junior-varsity matches so could play in the district tournament even if just for ‘practice’.

BC vs. BE Monday

Bullitt Central will go on the road on Monday for a second meeting with Bullitt East this season. The varsity match will start at 7:30 p.m.

The Lady Chargers stand at 12-12 after having a tough go of things in the Jefferson County Invitational Tournament over the weekend. The red and gold went 0-3, losing to Christian Academy and Owensboro Catholic in two games. The only bright spot was a three game loss to district rival Whitefield Academy (24-26, 25-19, 25-14).

Whitefield had beaten Bullitt East in three straight games back on Sept. 12 in a regular season meeting. The two teams will meet again in the semi-finals of the 24th District Tournament the week of Oct. 21.