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By JOSH CLAYWELL firstname.lastname@example.org
CECILIA — Thanks to strong front-line play, the LaRue County Lady Hawks saw their best-ever start come to an end at the hands of the Central Hardin Lady Bruins on Tuesday.
The visiting Lady Hawks had won seven consecutive matches to start the season, but they couldn’t make it eight in a row as Central Hardin took command early in both games and held on late for a 25-15, 25-12 win at Bruin Gym.
“The front line did a good job,” veteran Central Hardin coach Wendy Boeglen said. “We tried to mix it up with different people tonight to give everybody experience. All of last week they stepped up and did well at the net.”
That strong play continued as the Lady Bruins (11-2) racked up 27 kills en route to their sixth consecutive win.
Senior setter/hitter Tiffany Allen and senior middle hitter Kelsey Villwock led the charge, with each racking up five kills.
“That’s pretty good,” said Villwock, who also had two aces, one dig and one block. “Everyone really stepped up tonight. We’ve talked about not just tipping the ball back over the net, but definitely swinging hard at the ball.”
LaRue County (7-1) was off to its best start since going 6-1 in 2004. The Lady Hawks entered Tuesday’s match 7-0 against 5th Region competition, including 3-0 against the 15th District.
“We could have done a lot better than we did,” LaRue County coach Ben Schell said. “But credit Central Hardin; they’re a great team. Central Hardin is a tough team. They’re a lot tougher team than what we’ve faced so far.”
And it showed from the beginning as Central Hardin raced out to an 8-1 lead behind four kills from sophomore outside hitter Cassidy Sorrells, two from Villwock and one each from junior outside hitters Rebecca Morgan and Janna Brawner.
The lead grew to 15-5 following consecutive LaRue County attack errors, prompting Schell to use one of his two allotted timeouts in the first set.
“It was a big game and they understood that,” Schell said. “They were just really nervous out there.”
The break seemed to give LaRue County new life as the Lady Hawks were able to pull within 10 at 24-14 before Central Hardin won the game on a service error.
“We shouldn’t have made so many errors, but sometimes that happens,” Boeglen said. “But there’s always room for improvement. LaRue County picked up their game and made a run.”
The second game started much the same way as the first as Central Hardin surged to a 9-3 lead on a block by Brawner.
Schell used another timeout, but the Lady Bruins’ lead swelled to 17-5 on a kill by Allen.
The Lady Hawks cut the deficit to 20-12 following three consecutive attack errors by Central Hardin, but that was as close as they would get.
“There’s a lot of heart on this team more than anything else,” Schell said. “I could tell from the looks on their faces that they weren’t happy with how we were playing.”
Junior outside hitter Melanie Huhn paced the Lady Hawks with three kills and one ace, while sophomore setter Angelina Marcum chipped in with three assists and one ace.
LaRue County and Central Hardin don’t have any more matches against each other this season, but Schell knows the two could meet in the region tournament next month.
“I told them there’s a strong possibility we’ll see Central Hardin again,” Schell said. “But I think we can go and win our district and stay away from them.”
UP NEXT: Central Hardin plays Belfry at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the Lexington Lafayette Invitational. LaRue County hosts 16th District rival Green County at 8 p.m. Thursday.
Josh Claywell can be reached