By STEVE CORNELIUS, CJ Sports Editor
After running through their regular season with a 22-0 record, the Somerset Christian School Lady Cougars volleyball team were called such names as ‘perfect’, ‘flawless’, ‘exemplary’ and ‘unrivaled’.
But after a 25-21, 25-15, 25-18 win over Heritage Christian Academy in the championship game of the KCAA State Volleyball Tournament on Saturday, the Lady Cougars added another name to their resume – ‘State Champions’.
Somerset Christian won the Region 4 Tournament and downed three teams in the KCAA State Tournament this weekend to complete the perfect season with a 27-0 record and the coveted Kentucky Christian Athletic Association volleyball gold trophy.
“The amazing thing about the girls’ perfect season was they we had to overcome a lot of injuries earlier in the season,” Somerset Christian volleyball coach Guy Crubaugh stated. “But our girls have practiced all the way back to the summer months, and when we got in tough situations, we were able to rely on our muscle memory.”
“More importantly, we had great leadership on this team,” Crubaugh said. “Brooklyn Ricks was a great leader for this team. We also had Abi Hutchinson, who was our only junior, as a good leader. Then, you have Summer Phelps and Gabby Moore stepping up as leaders too.”
“We have a young team with a lot of sophomores, and those girls stepped up and played like seniors,” Crubaugh added. “It seemed like every time we had somebody hurt or down, we had other girls to step up their games and take up the slack. It is really a tribute to the grittiness of this team and their desire to win.”
After surviving a tough 25-18, 16-25, 25-17, 25-15 win over North Hardin in the semifinals, earlier in the day, the Lady Cougars were in total control in the championship game against Heritage.
The opening game of the championship match, went ‘back-and-forth’ with seven lead changes up until the game was tied at 18-18. Somerset, then got some breathing room to take a 22-19 lead off kills by Brooklyn Ricks and Audrey Moore, and a serving ace by Summer Phelps.
After a couple of errors by Heritage and offensive kills by Lady Cougars’ Gabby Moore and Brooklyn Ricks, and a serving ace by Lexie Turpin – Somerset Christian raced out to an early 6-2 lead in game-two. Gabby Moore had a kill and a block to close out the second game for the Lady Cougars.
Then, Summer Phelps and Gabby Moore controlled the net, as the Lady Cougars extended their game-two lead to 14-6.
Down the stretch of the second set, Brooklyn Ricks camped out on the right side of the net for five offensive kills.
Heritage took control of game-three in the early stages, by leading 10-7.
Trailing 11-9, Somerset Christian scored 10 unanswered points, thanks to 2 blocks and a kill by Summer Phelps, and a kill by Brooklyn Ricks.
The Lady Cougars lead was too much for Heritage to overcome, as the local volleyball team closed out their perfect state championship season.
Offensively, Somerset Christian was led by Brooklyn Ricks with 13 kills and an ace. Summer Phelps had 7 kills, 2 aces and 2 blocks. Audrey Moore had 9 kills and an ace. Gabby Moore had 4 kills and 2 blocks.
“Our middles were the big difference in our win today,” Crubaugh explained. “We were so evenly matched with Heritage, but our middle hitters took away their hitters.”
Brooklyn Ricks and Gabby Moore were named to the KCAA State All-Tournament team, and Summer Phelps was named MVP of the state tournament.
“Her middle play at the net was the reason Summer Phelps was named MVP of this tournament,” Crubaugh said. “Summer is not a huge sized player, and she is not your typical 6-foot player, but she can leap.”
“She started out as a cheerleader at our school, and I saw the way she could jump doing cheering stunts,” Crubaugh recalled. “I told her she needed to be playing volleyball, and she loves to play the game. She was the difference today, because she took away Heritage’s strong hitting at the net.”
Also, Brooklyn Ricks and April Wood were selected to the KCAA All-State Team.
With the Lady Cougars’ KCAA varsity state volleyball title, Somerset Christian School has produced three state championship teams this past fall. With 13 sophomores leading the varsity volleyball team, these same players won the KCAA junior varsity title earlier in the week. The Somerset Christian soccer team won a state title, as well, this fall.