LOG MOUNTAIN — Top-seeded Harlan County quickly erased any thoughts of a Middlesboro upset in the first round of the 52nd District volleyball tournament at Bell County on Monday. The Lady Bears advanced to their fourth straight district title game with a 25-12, 25-13, 25-17 victory over the Lady Jackets.
“The girls really played together tonight. We were a little nervous when we first came out, but once we started playing they had a lot of confidence and came ready to play,” said Harlan County coach Donna Vicini.
The teams exchanged points early in the opening set, before Harlan County began to pull away. Harlan County led by just two points before closing out the contest on a 17-6 run. Charleigh Mefford started the run with a service ace. Whitney Stevens then scored on a pair of tips in the next four points. Lauren Lee scored on a tip to make it 23-11. Katelyn Reynolds had a kill for a point. Middlesboro’s Shae Moyers delivered a serve into the net two points later to end the set.
The game was tied at three early in the second set, but Stevens recorded three straight aces to put the Lady Bears up 6-3. Harlan County never relinquished the advantage from that point. Lee pushed the lead to 20-10 with a tip late in the game. The teams traded points, before Harlan County scored on a pair of Reynolds serves to close out the set.
Harlan County led 9-6 in the third and final set when Brittany Clem scored on a tip and a serve in consecutive points to make it a 5-point game. Middlesboro never got closer than three the rest of the way. It was a 21-17 Harlan County lead late when Stevens and Reynolds took turns scoring the final four points to close out the match.
Stevens paced the Lady Bears with six kills, four tips, and four aces in the three sets.
“Whitney is somebody we can really depend on. She is an all-around player. She is a team-player that we can always count on to play hard,” said Vicini.
Clem added three tips, two kills, two aces, a block and a point. Lauren Lee recorded four tips, three aces and a kill. Reynolds delivered six kills, two aces and two tips. Mefford had two aces and a tip, while Chyanna Harris added an ace and a kill.
Harlan County (18-8) will take on Bell County in the championship today. The Lady Bears swept a pair of games during the regular season. Middlesboro closes the season at 5-21.
“We just have to take it one game at a time. It is anybody’s game tomorrow, so we have to come and play hard,” Vicini said.