North spikes Central

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By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - The North Bullitt Lady Eagles erased any doubt that they are the team to beat in the upcoming 23rd District Volleyball Tournament on Monday when they flew into Bullitt Central and posted a 25-5, 25-10, 25-12 victory that took only an hour.

North Bullitt already had cemented the number one seed for the first-round of the post-season when they beat Southern and Evangel last week. An earlier victory over Bullitt Central was the one that counted in the seeding process so this contest was more for sending messages. North Bullitt did that in a big way.The first game was tied at 2-2 when the Lady Eagles went on a 20-1 run to take over all of the momentum. Winning the first game is something the green and gold have done well in other matches, but there have been times when they have taken their foot off the gas.

That seemed to be something that was happening again when Bullitt Central rallied from a 7-1 start to pull within 8-7, forcing North Bullitt head coach Ashley Byerley to call a time-out. The Lady Eagles came back on the court and won the next three points and after it was 13-10, the green and gold won 12 straight points behind the serving of Erin Downs.

In the final game, Bullitt Central held a momentary 4-2 edge, but six straight points put North Bullitt back in the driver’s seat and they never looked back.

“We did not let up,” Byerley said on the court after the match. “We did make some mistakes that need to be fixed. We were fine tonight, but we’re not where we need to be for the regional. We have to play to our potential.”

What did the coach said to her team during the time-out when the score was 8-7 in the second game.

“I told them that all of those points came on our mistakes,” Byerley said. “It was missed communication or a bad pass. It was our mistakes.

“In rally scoring every mistake costs you a point,” the coach pointed out. “We have to eliminate mistakes from our game.”

It has been a tough season for first-year Bullitt Central head coach Katie VanVactor and her team and it got a lot worse on Monday. First, the team played without junior starter Eryn Toogood who was sick. Then, during the junior-varsity match, varsity starter Haley Dukes fell and injured her ankle and had to be taken to the hospital.

The Lady Cougars were already a team without a senior and with the loss of two junior starters, were left pretty much in disarray.

“Our entire varsity was pretty much sophomores,” VanVactor said after a long meeting with her team.

The coach saw a silver-lining in the fact that the Lady Cougars won both the junior-varsity and freshmen matches on Monday without dropping a game. 

“I think when you look at our program as a whole that the varsity didn’t win and the score was not good, but we won at the other levels,” VanVactor pointed out. “The program as a whole has a lot to be excited about.”

Losing two starters on short notice obviously affected the team.

“I think they were affected by it a little bit,” VanVactor said. “They never gave up.

“You have to give North Bullitt credit,” the Lady Cougar coach said. “They have very talented seniors. They have played together a lot and it shows on the court. You have to give them all the credit.”

Still, there is a very good possibility that the two Bullitt County teams could meet again in two weeks in the final of the 23rd District Tournament. North Bullitt has the number one seed for the tournament and while Bullitt Central has won just five times this season, two of those came over district rivals Moore and Southern, wins that will give Bullitt Central the number two seed in the post-season tournament that will be played the week of Oct. 8 at Evangel.

(Bullitt Central has not played Evangel this season and VanVactor says that she has been trying to contact that program since back in the summer, but is not getting emails returned.)

Bullitt Central will be back at home on Thursday of this week for an emotional contest with Bullitt East.

North Bullitt (15-3) has not been challenged the past two weeks with the lopsided wins over Southern (25-6, 25-6) and Evangel (25-2, 25-6), but the road will get much tougher from her to the end of the season as the green and gold have matches with Pleasure Ridge Park, Holy Cross, Whitefield Academy and Presentation before they have Senior Night next Thursday against Bullitt East.

Two of the three losses by the Lady Eagles came two weeks ago in the Queens of the Court Tournament at Central Hardin. The Lady Eagles lost to both the host team as well as Logan County. They did pick up wins over Boyle County, Franklin County and Edmonson County.

BE Wins Tournament

Getting a late invitation to the Seneca Invitational, Bullitt East head coach Ed Fisher jumped at the opportunity and it worked out very well as the red and gold rallied from an early loss in pool play to reach the championship match and avenge that early loss to Brown to bring home the big trophy.

In pool play, Bullitt East lost to Brown 20-25, 25-20, 15-7, but then reeled off wins over Fern Creek, Mercer County, Taylor County and Jeffersontown. That set up the rematch with Brown in the final and this time Bullitt East prevailed in an exciting 24-26, 25-23, 25-20 match on Saturday.

The tournament was satisfying for the Lady Chargers in that they beat district rivals Fern Creek and Jeffersontown. Bullitt East beat Fern Creek in a regular season match, but had lost to Jeffersontown, a painful setback that put the red and gold in the number four spot for the upcoming 24th District Tournament.

In fact, Bullitt East and Fern Creek will meet for a third time this season in the opening game of the five-team district event. The winner of that match will have to play Mercy, the second-ranked team in the state in the district semi-finals.

Bullitt East then carried that momentum into play on Monday night as they beat visiting North Hardin 25-21, 25-10.

That win left the Lady Chargers with a 17-10 record.