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By ANGELA WOODS
On Friday afternoon, Aug. 22, Carroll County High School students momentarily stopped their classworkfor an announcement on the intercom: “All CCHS volleyball players, please report to the gym to leave for your tournament.”
With lots of “good luck” wishes from their peers, the team traveled four hours to McCreary Central High School Invitational Tournament.
The team’s first match was against Garrard County. The Lady Panthers played well as a team, but Garrard won the first game, 21-10.
The girls got their game plan under control, with sophomore Kyndal Curry and junior Valerie White setting to their teammates, and attacks and assists from senior Marisa Ruckle, sophomore Tasha Hunter and junior Katerina Woods. In the back row, junior Brooke Boles and senior Devon Hill kept the volley alive, and sophomore Jill Butcher was there to help the clean-up.
The girls even had senior Dorothy Karcher, out for the season with a broken wrist, cheering them on, but they fell in overtime, 20-22.
Next was North Laurel. Still rattled from the previous loss, the Lady Panthers lost again, 12-21. But after taking a break to talk strategy, CCHS came back to win game two of the match, 21-12.
In the third match, it was the Lady Panthers against the Lincoln County Patriots. It was a bittersweet match for Carroll coach Michelle Montgomery, who is a Lincoln County graduate.
But she clearly cheered for CCHS and her daughter, Ruckel, who performed tough blocks and powerful attacks.
The whole team buckled down and took the match, beating the Patriots 21-18 in game one and 21-16 in game two.
On Saturday, Aug. 23, the tournament resumed at 9:30 a.m., with the Lady Panthers matched against Lynn Camp.
Woods and Hunter made smashing attacks; Butcher worked the net; Curry dove; and White served with 100 percent accuracy. Ruckel finished the match with a kill. The team, again, won both games, taking the match 21-7 and 21-11.
Next up was Clinton County, which pounded the Lady Panthers and took the match with a score of 11-21 in both games.
At this point, in the No. 4 seed, Carroll went up against No. 3 seed Somerset, a team of tall girls and powerful hitters. Still, they were no match for Ruckel and Co., who took the match 21-15 and 21-19.
Next was No. 2 seed Jackson County. Throughout play, volleys were long and intense, with multiple “pass, set, attack” plays in each point. Carroll took the match, 21-10 and 21-19.
The tournament ended with Carroll going up against No. 1 seed Clinton County, to whom they lost earlier in the day.
The Lady Panthers gave it all they had, but lost 16-21, 15-21.
It was a good showing, however, with the Lady Panthers taking third place out of a field of 12 teams.
White led the Panthers with 99 percent serving; and Hunter led in aces. Ruckel and Woods led in attacks and kills, while Curry dominated in digs and hustle play.
“We traveled a long ways to play a lot of games, and these girls should be proud of themselves,” Head Coach Wilbert Lowe III said. “To finish third of 12 teams, versus teams we never see play, is a big accomplishment –and a good tool to use versus our upcoming opponents.”
Lowe said the experience the girls gained from the tournament will help with game strategies for the rest of the season.
“We established some new rotations and positions that Coach Sibley and I had talked about, and now the girls are ready to go,” Lowe said. “We have a great group of girls this year that play solid teamwork, and I am so proud of them. [I] know we will have a great season.”
The next game is tonight at home against Walton-Verona.
On Thursday, the Lady Panthers travel to Gallatin County.