If their previous meeting Sept. 17 was any indicator, the expectation for the Central Hardin-Elizabethtown volleyball rematch would be for another five-set battle. That was not the case Tuesday at Central Hardin High School.
The Lady Bruins jumped out early and held on for a three-set sweep of the Lady Panthers, avenging a 3-2 road loss to the district foe from earlier this season. Central won the sets 25-16, 25-16 and 25-21.
“I think we just brought a lot more energy than we did last time and that was the main reason that we won,” Central ’s Addie Atcher said. “On the bench and on the court, I think we really brought that to the floor better than what we did last time.”
Lady Bruins coach Bill Rineker shared Atcher’s sentiment about the energy during the match. He added the fun the team had during practice Friday helped in providing this boost.
“Everything’s been so serious all summer and all year and I decided to have what we called Freaky Friday. My freshmen, my JV and my varsity all decided on themed costumes. My varsity showed up as the circus, JV showed up all in bald caps, they were Coach Bill, it was hilarious. Freshmen were in all-neon,” Rineker said. “I just feel like it just relieved a huge amount of tension off of us. We just had a day of pure fun and I feel like that’s really paid off, because the energy was through the roof tonight.”
After Elizabethtown took the first two points in the first set, the Lady Bruins proceeded to hit four straight to take a 4-2 lead. Central Hardin did not surrender the lead again and jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the match.
The Lady Panthers again took the first point in the second set, but Central Hardin again didn’t stay behind long.
Tied at 3-3, a strong shot from Lauren Thompson put the Lady Bruins up 4-3. Central Hardin proceeded to take four more points uninterrupted and maintained a multi-point lead for the set’s remainder.
E’town took control early in the third set and at one point led 9-5. The Lady Bruins proceeded to take five out of the next six points to tie the set at 10 apiece.
After ties at 11-11 and 12-12, Central Hardin took a 13-12 lead and did not fall behind again. Down 24-18 with the Lady Bruins on match point, the Lady Panthers cut the deficit to 24-21. A kill from Atcher stopped the run and secured the match win for Central.
“I was really excited to bring that for my team,” Atcher said. “I’m just glad I could contribute that.”
With the victory, Central has still not surrendered a set in matches it has won with the team’s only loss coming against Elizabethtown.
For the Lady Panthers, the loss was the second out of their last three matches after splitting their Saturday games, losing to Notre Dame and winning over McCracken County.
“One team came to play and the other team didn’t,” Lady Panthers coach Bart Catlett said. “Hats off to (Central Hardin). They made some adjustments. They played better tonight.”
M.E. Hargan led the Lady Panthers in kills with 14, while Grace Filburn had a team-high 10 assists.
Central Hardin (13-1) hosts John Hardin Thursday at 6:30 p.m. . Elizabethtown (6-3) hosts Meade County Thursday, also at 6:30 p.m.