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The SCHS volleyball team just couldn’t get over that North Oldham hump.
The Lady Rockets (22-6) scratched, clawed and battled their way through a very close match with the North (22-9), the 8th Region’s No. 1 team, but the upset was just a couple of points away Wednesday night at the SCHS gym.
Shelby fell to the Lady Mustangs, 2-0 (25-23, 25-19), but played them closer than anyone had since North beat Greenwood, 2-1, on Oct. 8.
“I was very happy with how we played,” SCHS Coach Felicia Pace said. “We definitely peaked at the right time. A few calls or a few more hit balls, and we’re on top.”
The victory put North Oldham in the 8th Region Championship, where they’ll face Oldham County. The Lady Colonels beat Anderson, 2-0 (25-10, 25-17). That game will be a rematch of the 29th District Championship last week, when North won, 25-20, 25-17.
The Lady Rockets started a little slow but ran down North with inspired play throughout the first game.
North built leads of 5-1, 7-2 and 11-6, but the Lady Rockets kept chipping away.
Pace was waiting for one of her big hitters to come through with a play the team could build off of, and her senior middle hitter didn’t disappoint.
“Keyshia [Patterson] kept her [North Oldham's Chelsea Volz] off her game the whole night in the middle,” the coach said.
Patterson’s huge block on Volz was the just the play that Pace was looking for, and it closed the gap to 18-16. The point further boosted the Lady Rockets’ confidence, and just four points later, Shelby County made its move.
Megan Russell and Heather Luce combined for a block, cutting North’s lead to 20-19, and the Lady Rockets’ tied the score at 20 on the next play, when Russell’s kill found the floor.
That point prompted North to call its second timeout.
North quickly scored two more points on Shelby miscues, but North ended the next two rallies with shots in the net, tying the score at 22.
Leanna Armstrong then came up with an ace, giving Shelby County its first lead, 23-22, since 1-0.
North took the next point to tie the score again, and then Shelby was called for touching the net. On game point, North finally pulled the match in after a long rally had Shelby County scrambling.
That first match left Pace with what-if thoughts.
“That was absolutely the best game we’ve played,” she said. “If we steal that first game, I think we win. At that point, we had nothing to lose, and they would have to chase us.”
The game plan, Pace said, was to keep the game close, shut down North Oldham in the middle and move the ball around.
“They followed the game plan perfectly,” she said. “The only thing more I could’ve asked for was to get to 25 points before they [North Oldham] did. They did absolutely everything right.”
The girls came out playing well in the second game, but at 20-17 North Oldham started to pull away.
“You have to work so hard against a team with such big hitters like North has,” Pace said. “So the second time around our defense was back a little. But Kassie Bruner played some crazy defense in on the back line. She was really fantastic.”
Although disappointed with the loss, Pace said her team did everything it could this season.
“The only thing missing this year is being in that championship game,” she said. “These girls did everything we asked them to do and more all season. I’m very proud of the way they ended the year, by playing their best.”
Kassie Bruner and Keyshia Patterson were named to the 8th Region all-tournament team.