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Volleyball spikes the field in 23rd

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By Mike Farner

      LOUISVILLE - The North Bullitt Lady Eagles have won district volleyball titles in the past including last season in the old 29th District.

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     On Wednesday, the green and gold won another title, this time in the 23rd District. In fact, North Bullitt dominated play, beating Moore 25-7, 25-9, 25-9 in the final.

     The entire district tournament was played on Wednesday at Evangel High School. The final was set for 8:30 p.m., but after Moore and Bullitt Central went five games in the first semi-final, the championship match didn't start until just before 10 p.m.

     Five nights earlier, in their final home match of the season and against arch-rival Bullitt East, the Lady Eagles had played in front of 1,200 raucous fans. On Wednesday, about 100 people stayed to watch what was inevitable.

     Nobody doubted that North Bullitt was going to win the trophy on Wednesday.

     "We had two tough practices," Lady Eagles head coach Ashley Byerley said after the win. "We knew we were in post-season play. I wasn't worried about a let down. I just wanted them to play to their potential."

     And did that happen?

     "I think we played the best we could have given the circumstances," Byerley answered.

     North Bullitt had blistered Moore during the regular season and given the fact that the Lady Mustangs had been involved in the grueling five-game match earlier in the evening, they had very little gas in the tank. The only balancing aspect to that was that North Bullitt had to play the second semi-final and had just 15 minutes between the two matches after drilling Southern 25-5, 25-8, 25-12.

     "The girls were as ready as they could be," Byerley said. "It was just putting everything into motion. Our passing was better tonight.

     "No, I don't think we were tired," the coach added. "We played five games in a match (during the season) that was more intense. I know the girls were ready to keep going."

     At the next level, the road will become much more difficult for the Lady Eagles. On Friday, the team learned that they will be taking on Pleasure Ridge Park in the first-round of the Sixth Region Tournament. That match will take place at the new Valley High School gym on Monday at 7 p.m.

     PRP defeated the Lady Eagles 19-25, 25-20, 25-20 back on Sept. 25 on Dixie Highway. In the regional tournament it will be best three out of five.

     "Against PRP we thought we should have won," Byerley said. "Our emotion was not as high then.

     "We'll still have two more hard practices to prepare," the coach said. "We won't let up. It will get more intense."

     While North Bullitt did get a trophy for winning on Wednesday, there was no All-Tournament team for the event.

     North Bullitt advances to regional play with a 22-9 record.

BC Bows Out

     There has been a lot of frustration for Bullitt Central this season as they are going through a major rebuilding process under first-year head coach Katie VanVactor.

     The team lost it's two seniors a few weeks into the season and then had their two most experienced players, juniors Haley Dukes and Eryn Toogood go down with injuries with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season.

     VanVactor had three juniors for the post-season with the rest of the varsity made up of inexperienced sophomores and freshmen.

     Still, the frustration just kept coming on Wednesday in the semi-finals. Bullitt Central had beaten Moore during the regular season to get the number two seed behind North Bullitt and the Lady Cougars appeared to easily be on their way to the final when they beat Moore 25-22 and 25-15 in the first two games. The maroon and gray even had a 14-8 lead in the third game when the wheels fell off.

     Moore rallied to take the third game 25-22 and then forced a fifth game by winning 25-17. In a fifth game that was to go to 15, it took extra time before Moore won 19-17. That was after the Lady Cougars scored the first six points of the fifth game.

     "It was very frustrating," VanVactor said after a long meeting with her team. "I thought we played really well the first two games and that we had it.

     "I'll give credit to Moore. They never let up," the coach added. "They just didn't let the ball hit the floor."

     Bullitt Central youthfulness really came into play.

     "We just kept letting up," the coach said. "We kept thinking we had it. Then we let some bad calls affect the way we played."

     Bullitt Central's season ended with a 6-26 record, but the team will have everyone back next season.

     "We told the girls after the match that they have to use this as motivation for the future," VanVactor concluded. "I'm very excited about the future of our program. We have strong girls and we'll be more experienced."