• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

WCHS volleyball falls short in comeback to Nelson Co.

The Woodford County High School volleyball team faced a tough test against Nelson County at home in The Hive on Wednesday, Aug. 24, and lost a hard-fought match 3-1 (25-16, 25-21, 12-25, 25-18). After the team lost one of its starters for the season due to injury in its previous match, Woodford head coach Meghan Bottom had to do some line-up adjustments, as well as change the team’s 6-2 offense to a 5-1 offense utilizing an up-and-coming freshman setter in Evelyn Milburn. Ultimately, the Lady Jacket team that took the floor against Nelson County was new and learning and, at times, that all showed. Still, there is a lot of talent and heart on this Woodford team and they dug down and made a match of it. “We’re learning,” said Bottom. “It’s a steep learning curve, any time you lose one of your players, and she’s a main part of your rotation. So we’re learning a new rotation. We’re asking players to step up. Before, we had more role players. So, it’s a learning curve.” In the first game, Nelson County took an early 3-0 lead, but Woodford came back to tie it 3-3, and take took a small lead, 4-3. But, the Lady Cards came right back, tied it 4-4, then took a 5-4 lead. With that lead, and while Woodford fought back, Nelson County went on to win the first game 25-16. Game two was much the same, as Nelson County took an early 10-3 lead, and while Woodford worked hard to come all the way back to three points, 24-21, and get into the set, it wasn’t to be and the Lady Cards won it 25-21. In the third set, Woodford showed their mettle as they took a 5-3 lead, opened it to 19-9 and would not let Nelson County gain any momentum. Then with Woodford ahead 23-12, Ashlyn Chumley went back to serve and on a kill by Woodford, an attack error by Nelson County and an ace by Chumley, Woodford claimed the third set 25-12. Building off its third set momentum, Woodford stayed close to Nelson County early in the fourth set. With ties at 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, and 4-4, the Lady Jackets seemed determined to tie the match. However, with the scored tied 5-5, Nelson County made a kill to take the lead 6-5. After that, no matter how hard the Lady Jackets tried, they just could not catch up to the Lady Cards. With Nelson County ahead 19-13, two scores by the Lady Cards’ setter on deep pushes into the corner, and then a point off a long, hard-fought rally that ended on a kill by Nelson County, despite some great digs by senior libero Mary Crutchfield to keep the ball in play, made it a 22-14 ball game and seemed take the air out of Woodford’s momentum. Woodford did rally for four more points, but in the end, Nelson County took the third game, 25-18, and the match. “I’d rather get these losses in now than later in the season,” said Bottom after the match. “It left us with some things to think about; some things to build off of. The girls realized what we need to improve on. They said it in the locker room. They know what we need to fix. It starts with passing, but even before passing, it starts with energy. We have to have energy in order to pass. And, we have to feed off one another. We’re learning how to do that. … So, the team dynamic is different. We’ll get there. I’m not worried at this point. It’s just a steep learning curve.” While many players put in a good performance on the night, Bottom made mention of one in particular. “Laura Crutchfield I thought really stepped up tonight as a freshman outside hitter,” said Bottom. “Laura really stepped up. Out of the blue, was asked to play due to an injury with another player and I thought Laura did an exceptional job getting hits for us, and getting passes. And being asked as a freshman who hasn’t had much playing time at the high school level, to play all six rotations and she did a really good job.”

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