BY MATTHEW SPARKS
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
Russell’s Grace Satterwhite receives a serve from Boyd County on Monday night at RHS. The Lady Devils went on to win 3-0.
Rachel Saunders of Russell blocks a hit by Boyd County on Monday night.
KEVIN GOLDY | THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
RUSSELL Russell was excited to have its captain back on the sideline.
Senior Emily Robinson did not play in the Red Devils’ volleyball match against Boyd County on Monday night. She is still recovering after spending some time in a Cincinnati hospital last week.
Her presence provided a big boost to her teammates on the court in a 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-13) win over the Lady Lions at Marvin Meredith Gym.
“We call her the mom of the team,” Russell coach Tiffany Perry said. “She is our encourager. She is the one who plans everything and brings everyone together. So, having her back is really important for us.”
Robinson’s teammates have performed well in her absence. Perry said each player has found a way to contribute.
“I talked to them after the Raceland game (last week),” Perry said, “and I told them someone has to step up. It speaks volumes about our team that all of them did. Every single player did. I can’t speak to just one. Rachel Saunders knew she had to step up and would have some big shoes to fill with Emily Robinson (out). She has done a really great job. She is working hard for Emily, for herself and for the team.”
Saunders was one of several players along Russell’s youthful front line that put the ball down. Freshman Grace Satterwhite led the Lady Devils with eight kills.
Sophomores Kate Ruggles and Saunders had four and seven kills, respectively.
Their coach said Monday’s performance is a product of the work they put in during practice.
“They are the ones who come early and leave the gym late,” Perry said. “They are the ones who ask me what they can improve on after every practice. You don’t see many sophomores who want to step up like they are. They are an awesome group of girls.”
Hannah Saunders added three spikes and Mackenzie Cole dished out 16 assists.
The Lady Devils bolted out to an early lead courtesy of a 9-0 run midway through the first set. Kayla Preston collected five of her team-high eight aces during the streak.
Russell (5-1) tallied a total of 17 service winners during the match.
“During Friday’s practice, we really needed to work on serving,” Perry said. “We did some conditioning and training and then worked on serves the rest of the time. I really think that helped. … When we are missing serves like that, we had to work on it. We came out and performed better tonight.”
After the Lady Devils ran away with the opening set, Boyd County responded in the second. Madeline Hill served seven straight points as the Lady Lions grabbed a 12-8 advantage. Russell answered with six of the next seven and kept the lead the rest of the way.
“We prevented ourselves from getting into a flow,” Boyd County coach Katee Neltner said. “It was unfortunate, but if you watch our games against Fleming County and Fairview, that is Boyd County volleyball to me. That is where they came out to fight. … We didn’t show up to do anything tonight.”
Lexie Queen and Sydney Winters each had four kills for Boyd County (4-4). Sadie Hill added five assists.
Russell has won 23 straight matches against Boyd County and has now taken the last 52 sets.