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Lady Pats VB move one step closer to district repeat with win

LANCASTER — One win down. One to go.

The defending district champion Lincoln County Lady Patriot volleyball team advanced to its fourth straight district final Tuesday night with a 3-1 win in the semifinal round of the 45th District Tournament at Garrard County Middle School.

In the 2016 through 2018 finals, it was Lincoln and Boyle County battling for the title. However, that won’t be the case in the 2019 final as the Lady Patriots earned their spot in Wednesday’s championship match by beating the Lady Rebels 25-16, 20-25, 25-19, 25-19.

“We’re back,” Lincoln coach Samantha Torres said. “It was a great match. I was really proud of them tonight. It would’ve been easy to get defeated after we lost that second set after winning the first one, but then they just rocked it right out. They were ready to go.”

Sarah Beth Grimes, Peyton Griffin and Kaylie Cotter had double-digit digs in the match win, with Grimes getting 24 digs and Griffin and Cotter each getting 18. Grimes continued with big numbers in assists, finishing with 24. She also had one block.

Griffin finished with three aces, seven kills and seven assists, Kaylynn Smith had eight kills, an ace and one block, Kasie Mullins had a kill and a block, Alyssa Salyers had three blocks and an ace, Emery Bertram had two aces and Jada Whited had an ace and an assist.

Lincoln (12-15) and Boyle (8-23) traded points, and leads, back and forth through the early part of the first set until the Lady Patriots broke on an 8-1 scoring run to open up a 15-8 lead. Lincoln scored the first four points of the run off the service of Kaylie Cotter and the next four came with Peyton Griffin serving. Lincoln posted its biggest lead of the set on the final point, 25-16.

The Lady Rebels would be the team making a run in the second set. The Lady Patriots led for most of the set until Boyle scored four straight points off the service of Sabree Norris to edge in front 18-17. Boyle would outscore Lincoln 7-3 over the remainder of the set to win 25-20 and even the match at 1-all.

There was a lot of emotion shown on the floor Tuesday night as each team, who split in the regular season, battled to keep its season alive. Lincoln seemed to hold an “emotional” edge over Boyle in the opening set only to have the Lady Rebels rev up as they came back in the second set.

“They were ready tonight and had a lot of attitude and energy in the first set,” Torres said of her Lady Patriots. “The second set we were losing that energy and Boyle was gaining it and that was the difference.”

But Lincoln was back on its game in the third and fourth set.

The third set of the match started very much like the first with the two teams trading points. But this time Lincoln would break on a decisive run to end the back-and-forth battle. The Lady Patriots trailed 10-8 when they won side out and they proceeded to roll off 10 straight points with Griffin serving to turn the deficit into an 18-10 lead.

Lincoln went on to take the set 25-19.

After a back-and-forth start in the fourth set, Lincoln used a 4-0 run to post a 9-5 lead then continued to gradually build on that lead, winning 25-19 to claim the match win.

“This game was a really big momentum game,” said Torres. “If you watch closely, you can see if someone’s made a couple points or they win that big rally or that really nice save. They get that energy and then they come back scoring points. It’s a really big mental game so it’s really whoever can stay consistent the longest. Normally, we’re up and down but tonight we were fairly consistent.”

Lincoln’s energy started to overflow in the final set as the Lady Patriots started to sense victory. At one point in the set, junior Emery Bertram let out a loud squeal and then started running around the floor after scoring an ace.

“A lot of them brought that kind of energy tonight,” said Torres. “She (Bertram) did her little victory lap. I was like, ‘Breath for me and don’t get too excited because you’ll …’ But she did really well. And I had one, Kaylynn (Smith), she was full of energy on the floor and she was like off the bench half the time when she was out. They were bringing it tonight.”

Lincoln faced Danville for the district title Wednesday night. Danville advanced with a 3-0 win over host Garrard County in Tuesday’s first match. Final results were unavailable at press time.

Tuesday’s win earned Lincoln an automatic berth in next week’s region tournament at Southwestern, the winner of the 48th District Tournament.