The Owensboro Catholic volleyball team powered past Apollo in spectacular fashion, winning the District 9 Tournament championship in a five-set battle.
After losing both regular season matches, the Lady Aces (18-13) broke through for a 3-2 (12-25, 26-24, 13-25, 25-21, 15-8) victory over the E-Gals (29-8). Apollo had not lost a set to a District 9 opponent all year.
Isabella Wright and Cassidy Towery led the way for the Lady Aces, coming up big in both attack and defense. The key to victory, echoed by both coaches after game, was the duo’s ability to keep plays alive that seemed to be sure points for the E-Gals.
“We really showed how much we improved and how much we wanted to win,” Wright said. “This game tonight really showed that we are not a team to look over next week at region. We are a smart team and we are going to fight.”
Cecilia Clemens, who was named District 9 player of the year following the match, also played a big role with 37 assists and seven kills. Wright finished with 14 kills and two aces.
The road to victory for the Lady Aces was difficult and started with them dropping the opening set 25-12. They jumped out to an early lead in the second, but Apollo fought back late and actually had set point. OCHS was able to hold them off to even the match at one set each.
The E-Gals looked poised to bounce back and take the match with a convincing 25-13 victory in the third and a quick start to the fourth. The strong serve of Wright, who got aces in two of the final five points, ultimately pushed the Lady Aces in front to even the match again.
In the tiebreak fifth set, it was Owensboro Catholic all the way. Head coach Brian Hardison said the team had a gameplan and stuck with it, which helped spur them to victory.
“I am very proud of our girls,” Hardison said. “The difference tonight was energy. I asked the girls for 45 minutes of pure energy, and they delivered. They could have rolled over after that first set and they didn’t. That was probably the most heart and energy I’ve ever seen my girls play with.”
On the other side, the E-Gals suffered defeat in both district and region play for the first time all year. Head coach MaryAnne Howard said it is difficult to win three consecutive matches against a familiar and worthy foe.
“I think it’s tough,” she said. “You go through season play, and after three games you know each other really well. I thought it was a hard-fought match by both teams, and they came up big down the stretch on some crucial plays where we had some miscues. Catholic played great tonight, and we just came up a little short.”
Leading Apollo were Jenna McMillen (12 kills, 3 aces), Carlee Widmer (11 kills), Natalie Ewing (10 kills, 3 blocks), Havanah John (4 blocks) and Brylee Rhodes (4 aces).
Up next for both teams is the Region 3 Tournament, which will be held at Muhlenberg County next week. Times and opponents will be decided by a draw this week.