BY MATTHEW SPARKS
FOR THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
RUSSELL The brooms have been busy on the Russell volleyball court.
The Lady Devils have decided their best-offive matches quickly this season, all resulting in 3-0 victories. The sweeping pattern continued Thursday night to make it 16 in a row.
Russell used long runs to pull away from Boyd County in the final two sets and claim a 3-0 (25-15, 25-8, 25-12) win at Marvin Meredith Gym.
Lady Devils coach Tiffany Perry feels the team’s will to win is the driving force behind their exceptional play this season.
“That is insane,” Perry said of the sweeps. “I’m not sure how it happens like that. I don’t place a lot of emphasis on it typically. When you think about it, it’s pretty awesome. Our girls hate to lose. That is something we worked on (Sunday). You have to be strong and you have to be willing to work through your own emotions to be there for your team.”
“They were amazing tonight,” she added. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. Boyd County is an amazing team. We need to play teams like that heading into the postseason.”
While one streak continues, one came to an end for Russell with just two weeks left in the regular season. West Carter defeated the Lady Devils on Saturday at Boyd County’s Lady Lions Invitational for their first region loss. The Lady Devils still holds an impressive 22-1 record inside the 16th Region.
Perry said the contest gave the team a new perspective.
“It is important to stay humble,” Perry said.
“No matter what, you can have a bad night and the other team could have a great night.
That’s just how it goes.
As much as I didn’t want to believe we wouldn’t lose in the region before tournament time, I knew it had to happen. … I think that loss was good for us to grow as a team. To know what we needed to work on. (Sunday’s) open gym talk really helped.”
Boyd County (16-7) never held a lead during the match. It closed within a point on two separate occasions during the first set before the Lady Devils collected a 19-12 advantage.
Four straight hitting errors gave Russell the opening set.
“We were kind of a head case tonight in a big game like this,” Boyd County coach Katee Neltner said. “When you think about it, we are still young. We only have five upperclassmen. Russell is a good team. You can’t take that away from them.”
Russell’s size and skill on the front line present a challenge for opposing teams.
“Every team around here has size on their front line,” Neltner said.
“It is really just adjusting to different levels of skill on each team. Russell has high skill up front. That is something you have to deal with.”
Junior Rachel Clark served 10 straight points midway through the second set to allow Russell to open a sizeable lead.
The Lady Devils allowed just eight points to go up 2-0.
“She is our most consistent server,” Perry said of Clark. “She can stand back there and serve all night and not miss a beat. We need that on our team. We need someone that doesn’t try to do anything fancy. She can place it and that is why her serves are so strong.”
Russell (24-3) opened the third game with a 143 lead and never looked back. Kate Ruggles smacked her sixth kill to close out the match.
Unofficially, Grace Satterwhite finished with seven kills. Rachel Saunders and Alexus Collins each added two.
Perry said the key to a successful scoring surge starts with the pass.
“We have a lot of components that go into scoring,” Perry said. “Passes are needed to set up your offense. I think it begins there. It starts with the serve but ultimately, it’s getting that pass, getting a good set to the front row and attacking. We worked all weekend getting these girls into shape. We haven’t faced a loss in the region until last Saturday. They were upset because they hate losing. They wanted to get back into the gym.
They did everything that we practiced tonight.”
Sadie Hill dished out 14 assists for the Lady Devils. Cameron Terry, Brinley Griswold and Morgan Lewis each had three kills for Boyd County.
Abby Baker recorded 11 assists.