Russell rises and shines

BY ROCKY STANLEY
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT

 

WESTWOOD A road trip to Owingsville the previous night wore on Russell’s volleyball team — but not for long.

The Lady Devils overcame a six-point deficit in the opening set to sweep past Fairview 3028, 25-11, 25-14 on Tuesday night and remain unbeaten against 16th Region competition.

“I don’t think we were having much fun out there early,” Russell coach Tiffany Perry said. “A lot of the girls were saying they were exhausted.

We weren’t moving that well.”

Fairview scored three consecutive points to go up 16-10, but the Lady Devils responded with an 8-2 run to tie it on sophomore McKenna Barfield’s point at the net. The score was tied eight more times — the last at 28. Russell freshman Sadie Hill then closed it out, first with a kill down the line and then by hitting a serve that Fairview was unable to return.

With the first set in hand, Russell controlled the rest of the match.

“I told them they had to have fun, and they had to play smart,” Perry said. “They did.

They started playing better. It’s like those things go hand in hand for high school girls.”

Perry said there was a lesson to be learned by her players from the experience.

“We got home pretty late from Bath County,” she said.

“We’ve been playing tournaments every weekend. But you’ve got to get out of that mindset of being exhausted.

We’re going to work tomorrow on a lot of things. It will be the first practice we’ve had in a while.”

On the other side, Fairview coach Rick Lambert lamented a missed opportunity.

“We had momentum in the first set and just weren’t able to carry it through,” Lambert said.

Even so, the veteran coach liked the grit displayed by his team, especially how the Lady Eagles kept extending the first game by staving off five set points.

“We made a bunch of good plays there,” he said. “After that we continued to battle.

Russell has a lot of weapons, and we do too.”

Fairview’s 10 wins in August are reportedly a first for the program. “They’re a well-coached team,” Perry said. “I don’t know what Rick does to make them so fast.

He’s an excellent coach and has done so much with that program. You just can’t have a bad set against Fairview.”

The Lady Eagles were coming off an emotional 3-1 victory over Ironton on Monday night after dropping the first set. The momentum carried into Tuesday with sharp play and good court coverage before Russell found its rhythm.

“It’s difficult to play Ironton and Russell back to back,” Lambert said. “This place was rocking last night.”

Russell improved to 14-2 overall and 12-0 against the region, including three wins over Fairview. The first two came at the one-day Bulldog Bash in Louisa.

Junior Kate Ruggles, a 5-10 middle hitter, gave the Lady Devils a lift Tuesday with her excellent touch around the net. She led the team with 14 point on kills or tips — several of them taps over or around block attempts into vacated areas.

“She can hit anywhere,” Perry said. “Kate’s versatile at the net. We like to get the ball in her hands.”

Sophomore Grace Satterwhite followed with 10 kills, including nine of the power variety.

“Russell hit the ball pretty well on us,” Lambert said.

“They’ve got a lot of height and good athletes as well. We didn’t communicate well a couple of times.”

The Lady Devils rolled to a 15-1 advantage in the second set. Kendall Staton served the last eight of those points, beginning with three aces.

The third set went back and forth early. Rachel Saunders and Satterwhite combined to score three consecutive points and Russell went on to build a 23-8 cushion with Hill serving 10 in a row.

Fairview (10-6) scored five consecutive points but couldn’t climb out of the deep hole.

Freshman Charlee Hobbs tallied 17 assists for the Lady Eagles. Alexis Claar totaled six kills and six digs, while Megan Dunn had 10 digs.

“I told the girls I think we’re one of the top teams in the region,” Lambert said. “We’ve been beaten three times by Russell, that’s half our losses. If we’re fortunate enough to get to the regional, we might see them again.”

(606) 326-2671 | rstanley@dailyindependent.com





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