Lady Pat VB team wins regional opener

Published 11:32 am Thursday, October 18, 2018

STANFORD — It was another win and another sweep for the Lincoln County High School volleyball team on Tuesday night.

And it was in the postseason.

Lincoln opened the 12th Region Volleyball Tournament with a 3-0 victory over Rockcastle County – its 21st sweep this season.

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The 23-7 Lady Patriots, hosts for the 2018 tournament, have lost to only four regional foes this season and all four, including Rockcastle, made it to the regional tourney. That’s why Lincoln coach Samantha Torres has stressed to her team the importance of focus in the tournament – even against a team like Rockcastle, which the Lady Patriots also beat twice.

“We came in knowing it was going to be tough. But, I mean, to be honest, just about any team you play in the region tournament, it’s going to be a tough game,” she said. “They got there by winning important games. They’ve all got there by effort and skill. We are not going to come into this taking any team lightly.”

Lincoln beat Rockcastle 25-17, 25-22, 25-15 to advance to the semifinal round on Wednesday. The Lady Patriots will play Southwestern, who defeated defending champion West Jessamine 3-2 in Tuesday’s second game.

The Lady Patriots fell behind 4-1 in the first set Tuesday, but rebounded to go on top 8-5. Lincoln pulled ahead 11-10 midway through the set then finished on a 14-7 run to take the set 25-17.

Rockcastle (18-17) trailed from start to finish in the second set, but that didn’t mean the Lady Rockets didn’t challenge the Lady Patriots. Lincoln opened up a 10-1 lead on Rockcastle in the set and needed every point as the Lady Rockets exploded on a 21-12 scoring surge to deadlock the game at 22-all.

A Taryn Johnson kill, one of 12 kills for the LCHS senior, finally stopped the bleeding for Lincoln, earning the sideout. The Lady Patriots then closed on a 3-0 run, with a Johnson kill ending the set.

With the season on the line, Torres admitted that Rockcastle’s second-set rally effort was a little concerning.

“A little bit,” she said. “The second set, where we lost that big lead that we had. They were starting to get a little too shaky there. Nothing too major. Nothing too big to worry about, but a little shaky.”

Having faced Rockcastle three times prior to Tuesday night, Torres said she wasn’t surprised by the team’s comeback try.

“We saw them just a couple weeks ago. It’s the same team, same thing,” she said. “They are huge on momentum. You give them an inch and they are going to take a hundred miles from you. So you’ve got to go hard.”

While some concern entered Torres’ mind during the Rockcastle surge, the Lincoln mentor said she wasn’t about to let it show.

“No. They (Lady Pats) have to keep their minds strong, so I try to do that same thing for them,” Torres said. “They rely on me. If I stay calm, then they are more likely to stay calm.”

Lincoln took control of set three early. The set was tied only once, 1-1. The Lady Patriots broke on a 15-5 scoring run to lead 16-6. They would lead by as many as 11 points before sealing the match victory with a 25-15 third-set win.

Savanna Smith had eight kills, five blocks and two aces for the Lady Patriots in the win. Peyton Griffin had five aces and three assists and Johnson had three aces. Jasmine Whited finished with 16 assists and Kasie Mullins had three kills and two blocks.

Torres said she was pleased with her team’s play in the region win, the Lady Patriots’ first since 2011.

“We’ve got really great chemistry between the girls and it really shows. They played well,” she said. “When things get tough and things get tight, they know how to bounce back cause they rely on each other through that chemistry.”