• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports

Lady Jackets volleyball wins district opener

PIPER MCCOUN makes a kill in the fourth set against Western Hills. (Photo by Bill Caine)

GEORGIA SUTTERLIN sends a ball over two Western Hills defenders in the final set. (Photo by Bill Caine)

The Woodford County High School volleyball team opened district play Thursday night, Aug. 17, with a 3-1 win over Western Hills. Woodford County set the tone of the match with a 25-18 first-set win. "I felt like we came out fast with a lot of energy and that was key to us winning the first game," said Coach Meghan Bottom. "Caroline Miller was huge for us in the first game. She had a big run of serves, and she just got moved to varsity yesterday. Great night for her." Western Hills came fighting back to win the second set 25-21. Woodford rallied back a couple of times and had a few key blocks by Alex Gililland and Claire Lehmkuhler that kept the Jackets in the game. "We lost a little energy in the second set," said Bottom. "The girls learned their lesson and turned it back up. Our senior Lauren Smiley was fantastic at making sure the energy stayed up on the floor. I was really proud of her for that." The Jackets won the third set 25-16, highlighted by a few fantastic kills by freshman Piper McCoun and senior Lauren Smiley. Lehmkuhler was instrumental again by making a pair of blocks at the beginning of the fourth and final set. The final set was grueling, with many long points played. Woodford County eventually went on to win 25-20. "I am pleased with the overall effort tonight," said Bottom. "We will continue to work on some things. I'd like to see a little improvement on blocking up front. We continue to work on being in sync with our hitters and setters." In the season opener on Tuesday, Aug. 15, the Lady Jackets were defeated 3-1 by the Marion County Lady Knights. Woodford came out fast and steady, executing passes and scoring effectively. The Lady Jackets went on a scoring run early in the first set to stretch the score to 12-8 that led to a Lady Knights time out. The Lady Jackets made a few key digs towards the end of the set that led to scoring chances by senior Lauren Smiley and took the first set 25-22. Marion County came storming back and took the second set 25-18 and followed that up with a tightly played win in the third set 25-23. "We needed to pass a little better," said Bottom. "The girls showed a lot of hustle and were scrappy. Even when the passes weren't the best, we still got swings at the ball and tried to make a play." Heading into the fourth set, Bottom could be heard encouraging her squad. "Let's play our game," she said. "I think we did pretty well," said senior captain Lauren Smiley. "It's a young team, but everyone has bought into what we are trying to do. It's different than years past because being the older player means I am passing down the leadership examples that I received coming up." The Lady Knights eventually went on to defeat Woodford in the fourth set 25-18. "I think this was a huge improvement for us," said Bottom. "We still get a little tight in close games but we are a young team, and this will only make us stronger as they learn from these experiences. If we can get more consistent serving and passing, we should be in great shape." Woodford County JV won 2-1, and the freshman team won 2-0.

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