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PREP VOLLEYBALL: Central, E'town host tourneys this weekend (09/06)

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By Ryan O'Gara

Weekend volleyball tournaments give coaches a chance to learn a lot about their teams in a short amount of time.

Central Hardin and Elizabethtown are looking forward to that opportunity as both schools will host their own tournament this weekend. The Lady Bruins are hosting the 20-team John O’s Valero Queens of the Court today and Saturday and the Lady Panthers are hosting the eight-team Hillard Lyons Classic on Saturday.

John Hardin and Meade County are part of the field at Central Hardin, while there are no other area teams at Elizabethtown.

Teams at Central Hardin are guaranteed six matches, while teams at Elizabethtown will play five. Both setups enable coaches to learn quite a bit in a short period of time.

“You can learn from individual matches, but when you’re in a tourney playing quality opponents, you see the feedback right away and can learn a lot more,” said Central Hardin coach Bill Rineker. “You see how much heart your team has because at the end, they’re pretty gassed. At the end of the tournament, you see if you can play at a high level when you’re tired.”

Central Hardin (4-0), John Hardin (3-3) and Meade County (8-4) will see a variety of teams as three schools from Tennessee and one from Illinois are in the field. The Lady Bruins and Lady Bulldogs won’t have to face each other because the tournament is set up so teams from the same district or region aren’t forced to face off.

Central Hardin is in a pool with North Bullitt (5-4), Pulaski County (5-3) and South Floyd (3-3). John Hardin is in a pool with Lexington Bryan Station (3-12), Logan County (4-1) and Boone County (2-1). Meade County is in a pool with Nashville (Tenn.) Christ Presbyterian, Hopkinsville University Heights (4-0) and Allen Central (10-1). The teams will be repooled Saturday morning with ideally the winners of each pool matching up. There will not be a tournament champion crowned.

For a Lady Bruins team which hadn’t lost a set until Thursday and is still relatively inexperienced, a big chunk of matches against quality opponents in a short amount of time might be overwhelming, but Rineker said it’ll benefit the team in the long run.

“We’re going to find out real quick who can step under pressure,” he said. “We look forward to playing better teams even though they know there is a chance we’ll lose. They’re fired up to play some of these teams and I like that. They’re not afraid of it, they’re excited. I always tell them, respect everyone but fear no one.”

Elizabethtown (7-3) will square off with Breckinridge County (2-3), Bardstown (4-6) and Bullitt East (2-2). The top two teams from the pool will join the top two teams from the other pool and play two more matches.

Last year, Elizabethtown was runner-up to Bardstown Bethlehem (3-1), which also beat the Lady Panthers in the 5th Region Tournament quarterfinals. The Lady Panthers could potentially meet the Banshees late in the tournament.

Elizabethtown coach Bart Catlett has rotated several players and Saturday will be a good chance to form a lineup moving forward in district play.

“Some players are moving around to different positions they normally don’t play. This tournament will be a good test for us to see if we have any more switches we need to make before we go into district play with some other teams,” Catlett said. “It’s going to be a good finding-our-way tournament. Hopefully we’ll get a bunch of wins and give the girls some confidence. We’ll see some different teams with different offenses.”

Ryan O’Gara can be reached at 270-505-1754 or rogara@thenewsenterprise.com.