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By Jimmie Earls
Sun Sports Writer
The Washington County Commanderette volleyball team found new life in the postseason with a 2-1 win over Bethlehem in the first round of the 17th District Tournament on Monday night. With the victory, the girls guaranteed themselves a spot in the 5th Region Tournament at Central Hardin, which begins Oct. 20.
The Commanderettes got off to a shaky start in game one, but Morgan Thomas went on a 9-0 run in service and WC fought back to win 25-23.
“We were fortunate Bethlehem had some minor problems out of serve receive,” said WC head volleyball coach Brett Hudson. “Our team really dug in and made some great plays during Thomas' run.”
In game two, the Commanderettes struggled to put points on the board. Junior Shannon Wethington provided some help on the back row, but WC's passing was off and they lost that game 17-25 to the Banshees.
Advancement in the tournament was on the line in game three. WC got off to a 7-0 start on the strong service of Olivia Thompson, who was added to the varsity squad this past Friday. Thompson went 10-for-10 at the service line with three aces.
“Olivia responded well and we are all very proud of her,” said WC assistant volleyball coach Todd Osbourne.
Morgan Thomas and Amber Taylor also did well in service with Thomas going 14-for-15 and Taylor going 11-for-11. Sophomore libero Jaclyn Kelty also played well on the back row.
“Back row defense kept us in the match when our offense wasn't clicking,” added Osbourne.
Bethlehem called a timeout as it was down 12-4. The Banshees were able to fight back within one point when WC led 20-19. The Commanderettes hung on for the 25-21 win and took the match 2-1.
The win put them into the district finals against Nelson County on Tuesday night and they are also guaranteed to play in the 5th Region Tournament at Central Hardin next week.
The previous week, the Commanderettes wrapped up the regular season with two matches, the last away game in Taylor County and the final home game against Marion County.
It's close to the end of the season and it was starting to show a little as the varsity squad didn't seem focused, and the coaching staff saw a lack of intensity.
“Our front row played well,” Osbourne said. “Our serve receive and defensive intensity was lacking.”
Despite those problems, the Commanderettes still managed to win 2-1 (25-23, 22-25, 25-11) over the Lady Cardinals.
Outside hitter Emily Tingle had a strong match, recording nine kills, and setter Sarah Teater had a strong night, consistently setting the ball to the middle and outside.
WC served 95.6 percent from the service line with Morgan Thomas going 20-for-20 with two aces and Amber Taylor going 9-for-9 with two aces.
The JV Commanderettes played with good energy and swept the Taylor County JV 2-0 (21-12, 21-17).
Freshman Shelby Spalding got her first start on the JV team and played very well in her first full JV game.
Washington County seniors Emily Tingle, Sarah Teater, Morgan Thomas, Brittany Curtsinger and Amber Taylor were honored prior to the final home game on Thursday night against Marion County. The pressure was on and it showed as the Commanderettes played well against the Lady Knights but were defeated 2-1 (19-25, 25-22, 19-25).
“Marion County was very aggressive at the net,” said Osbourne. “We tried to mix it up on offense but it seemed they had an answer for everything we tried.”
The JV squad was swept 2-0 and the freshman team lost 2-1 to what Osbourne said was “one of the best freshman teams we've played this year.”