In one of the most thrilling volleyball games ever played at Cougar Gym, one in which every point was fought and clawed for, the Edmonson County Lady Cats beat Grayson County’s Lady Cougars in a back-and-forth, five-set match, 3-2 (13-25, 25-18, 19-25, 25-21, 16-14) in the opening round of the 12th District Tournament.
The loss ended the season for the Lady Cougars. Finishing with a fine 16-12 record, the young Lady Cougars will lose just two starters next season, Kelsey Embry and Machala Perkins, and should be strong in the future. Edmonson County improved to 20-10 for the season and will face the winner of Whitesville Trinity and Butler County on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Cougar Gym.
The Lady Cougars came out absolutely fired up at the start of the match and never trailed in the first set. Two aces from Katlynn Bratcher and some Edmonson mistakes on a volley allowed them to grab an early 5-1 lead.
Grayson County pushed the lead to five points at 7-2, but the Lady Cats kept fighting back, pulling to within a point of the lead at 10-9 following an ace by Mikayla Lindsey.
But the Lady Cougars went on a 9-1 run that saw them grab their largest lead to that point, 19-10. Perkins and Shelbi Arnold both had kills in the run and Ciarra Meredith added an ace.
Shelby Watkins took the serve with Grayson County leading 23-13 and a hitting error by Ariel Hodge brought it to set-point, 24-13. The Lady Cougars then won a duel at the net to take the first set.
With the second set tied at 4-4, the Lady Cats got a kill from Hodge and two aces from Courtney Hymer to take the lead for good at 7-4. The Lady Cougars stayed within three or four points until Hymer took the serve again with her team on top 16-12. Two more aces and some Lady Cougar mistakes put the Lady Cats up by eight 20-12
Grayson County got as close as six points three times, but the Lady Cats put away a kill on set-point to even the match at one set apiece.
The third set was all about the Lady Cougars. They trailed 1-3 in the early going, but 10 straight points put them in front to stay at 11-3. Sophomore Bailey Martin was on fire hitting during the run, putting away five kills. Bratcher was also a big contributor as she served three aces
Edmonson County would not quit, and twice closed to within three of the lead, 18-15 and 20-17, but the Lady Cougars held on. Freshman Miranda Boaz served an ace on set-point to give Grayson County a 2-1 lead.
The Lady Cougars raced out to a five-point lead, 9-5, in the fourth set looking to close out an upset of the number-two seeded Lady Cats, but the visitors fought back. Five straight points, including two aces from Mary Chris Waddell gave them an 18-15 lead and they would not trail again.
Grayson County staved off one set-point at 20-24, but with Meredith serving at 21-24, the Lady Cougars let a set-ball fall untouched, allowing the Lady Cats to tie things at two-sets apiece and setting up the 15-point final set.
The Lady Cats took an early 5-2 lead following a kill by Hodge and an ace by Hymer, but the Lady Cougars knotted things at 6-6 following a 4-1 run.
Neither team would lead by more than a point until the Lady Cougars took a 12-10 lead following an Edmonson error. The Lady Cats tied it at 12-12, but the Lady Cougars responded with two more to give them a match-point at 14-12.
Then came a call which decided the match in favor of Edmonson County. Hodge sent a cross court kill attempt that appeared to be wide, but the line judge called it in despite vehement protests from the Cougar sideline.
The call stood and the Lady Cats took the serve trailing by just one, 14-13. Hodge came up with another kill off the Cougar block to tie things at 14-14. Hymer followed with another ace to give her team their first match-point, and when Martin put her next kill attempt into the net, the Lady Cats celebrated their win.