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VALLEY STATION - It was an emotional evening for the Ashley Byerley and her North Bullitt Lady Eagles.
Not only had the team lost in the regional semifinals for a second straight year but she was also saying goodbye to a senior group that had been with her since she arrived at North Bullitt four years ago.
But despite the tears, it was another very successful season for the volleyball squad. After reaching the semifinals in the Eighth Region last year, the Lady Eagles would switch to the Sixth Region and advance once again.
On Wednesday, it would be Whitefield Wildcats who would end the North Bullitt dream.
After a very competitive first game, the Wildcats finished out the night with a 26-24, 25-16, 25-15 victory.
The Lady Eagles had lost a three-set match to Whitefield in early October.
“We started out strong but we couldn’t get some of our rotations,” said Byerley, whose team finished at 23-10. “Once we got down, we just couldn’t recover.”
After winning the 23rd District title, North Bullitt faced two strong competitors in Pleasure Ridge Park and then Whitefield.
“I felt we were up to the challenge,” said Byerley. “We played hard the entire season. We just ran into a very good Whitefield team.”
In the first game of the semifinal battle, North Bullitt had a set point serving at 24-21; however, Whitefield would score the final five points.
Early in the match, Whitefield’s front line went away from the power game and found holes in the defense with touch shots. Later in the match, Whitefield became more aggressive and more powerful.
“We played very well in the beginning,” said Byerley. “I think we were in control at the net.”
After the first game setback, North Bullitt got as close as 12-10 but could not stop a series of serving stretches by the Wildcats, which included five aces or service winners.
Losing the second game 25-16, the Lady Eagles were backed up against the walls of the new multi-million dollar facility built on the Valley High campus.
But things really didn’t get any better. The Lady Eagles would get down early and could not make a dent in the lead. The Wildcats continued to serve well to close out the match 25-15.
Things were much happier two nights earlier as North Bullitt avenged an earlier loss to PRP.
North Bullitt was able to overcome some early deficits to win 25-19, 12-25, 25-21, 25-23.
“The girls played hard,” said Byerley. “We hustled and that was the key.”
In the final game, North Bullitt fell behind 9-2 but fought back to win.
“We recovered and fought hard tonight,” said Byerley. “We really recovered in that fourth game.”
A reminder to the team that this could be the last game of the season and for some their high school career seemed to give the players a boost, said Byerley.
“The girls rise to the level of the competition,” said Byerley. “In the regional tournament, everyone is good.”
With six - Brooke Adams, Caitlin Crowder, Erin Downs, Brittany Farnsley, Kelsie Hill and Kiersten June — of the 10 players in the varsity rotation graduating, there will be some rebuilding but Byerley is confident of those returning.
“I am really so proud of these girls,” said Byerley. “They have a special place in my heart.”
All Regional team
Brooke Adams and Erin Downs were local players selected to the All-Sixth Region tournament team.