MT. VERNON - The Southwestern Lady Warriors - champions of the 48th District - faced off against the West Jessamine Lady Colts - champions of the 46th District - at Rockcastle County High on Thursday Night, to decide the volleyball champions of the 12th Region. These two schools are not strangers to one another, as they faced off for the 12th Region girl's soccer title as well earlier in the month. Also, Southwestern and West Jessamine met in the region finals last season, as well.
Fans once again packed the gymnasium for both sides. Although the Lady Warriors were heavy underdogs against a strong 34-5 West Jessamine squad, the spirit and work ethic of this Lady Warriors squad figured to give them at least a fighter's chance in this battle. Unfortunately, they just didn't have enough to knock off the favorites, losing in straight sets 3-0 (25-15, 25-15, 25-17). With the win, the Lady Colts won their third straight regional crown. Over the past eight years, either West Jessamine or Southwestern have won the 12th Region title.
Coach Mitzi Jones of Southwestern was asked after the game about the team playing through adversity throughout the season and said, "We have had, of course everybody has, had a rough year with COVID. The season has been up and down. At one point we had 6 of our varsity players out with COVID. But I'm proud of them, first season with a new coach, and they finally were starting to buy in to what I was coaching. If I would have had a little bit longer with them, the story might have been different."
Jones also went on to say about the West Jessamine team, "They have a lot of weapons. We don't see that consistently, we see it in the tournaments we go to, but we don't get to see that on a consistent basis. It's really hard to get a block up when they are running that fast of an offense."
In the beginning of the first set, West Jessamine flexed their offensive prowess early, leading 10-6 early, being led by kills from Brooke Hager (1), Keelin Ford (1), and Emily Krintz (1), as well as a block from Ford. Southwestern was led early by a kill a piece from Kylee Tucker and Halle Norvell, as well as a block from Avery Rose and an ace from Norvell. Although the effort was certainly there for the Lady Warriors, the Lady Colts took over in the middle of the set, taking 9 of the next 13 points to lead 19-10 through the middle of the set.
West Jessamine was led here by kills from Ford (1), Hager (2), Ashleigh Messick (1), Sara Gdovka (1), and Krintz (1), as well as 2 straight aces from Messick. Although Southwestern would score 5 more points, via 1 kill a piece from Rose and Aslynn Davidson, West Jessamine would go on to win the set 25-15, via 1 kill a piece from Hager and Ford, as well as a block from Gdovka, and the set-winning point was scored via an error on the side of Southwestern.
In the 2nd set, it seemed to be a little bit of a closer battle, as the Lady Colts held a slim 9-7 lead early in the set. West Jessamine was led here by kills from Messick (2) and Ford (1), as well as a block and ace from Krintz, while Southwestern was led by a kill a piece from Norvell and Kamryn Young, and an ace a piece from Paige Truett and Katie Shaw.
However, the Lady Colts once again took control through the middle of the set, leading 18-13 behind kills from Abi Bruner (1), Hager (2), and Krintz (2), as well as an ace from Syndey Collins. The Lady Warriors were led here by kills from Norvell (1) and Tucker (3). Unfortunately for Southwestern, the Lady Colts offense sprung to life at this point, taking 7 of the next 9 points to once again win the set 25-15, putting Southwestern on the brink of postseason elimination. West Jessamine was paced at the end of the set by Bruner (1 kill and 1 block), Krintz (1 kill), and the set-winning kill by Messick.
The Southwestern fans were loud at the beginning of the 3rd set, trying to will their Lady Warriors back into the game. Early, it looked as if the cheering was working in getting the players fired up, as they hustled all around the court, leading themselves to only be down 3 points through the beginning of the set, 9-6. The Lady Warriors were led early by kills from Tucker (2) and Davidson, as well as an ace from Shaw. Meanwhile, the Lady Colts were being led by kills from Hager (1), Krintz (1), and Bruner (1), as well as an ace from Krintz.
Through the middle of the set, Southwestern looked as sharp as they had all game long, getting the game to a 15-15 tie behind a kill a piece from Norvell, Tucker, and Rose, and an ace from Truett, while the Lady Colts added kills via Messick (1) and Hager (1), and a fantastic block by Bruner. Unfortunately, the Lady Warriors just didn't have enough to finish the set out, as West Jessamine proceeded to take 10 of the next 12 points to claim the 3rd set (and the game) 25-17.
The Lady Colts were led throughout the huge game-ending run by a block from Ford, an ace from Krintz, as well as kills from Ford (2), Frintz (1), and Messick (3, including the set and game-winning kill). The West Jessamine Lady Colts are the winners of the 12th Region, and will advance to the KHSAA State Volleyball Tournament. An absolutely fantastic season from Southwestern.
The following Southwestern players had the final game of their careers tonight, and a huge shoutout and congratulations go out to them: Aslynn Davidson, Hollyn Gover, Avery Rose, Sydnee Schulz, Katie Shaw, and Paige Truett.
The 12th Region All-Tournament Team was announced after the game as well, and is as follows: from Garrard County Aislinn Ellis, from Lincoln County Danielle Story, from Mercer County Kallise Gammon, from Rockcastle County Laura Doan, from Somerset Mckayla Waters and Addison Langford, from Wayne County Mallory Campbell and Mariah Bowlin, from Southwestern Katie Shaw, Paige Truett, and Kylee Tucker, and from West Jessamine Syndey Collins, Emily Krintz, Ashleigh Messick, and Olivia McKibben. Again, congratulations go out to all the Southwestern players for another successful season.