The Apollo volleyball team, ranked 25th in the state by the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association, has yet to lose a set to any team in the region. They’ll try to continue the streak as the District 9 Tournament begins today at Daviess County.
The E-Gals will take on a young Owensboro team that struggled throughout the year but won a couple matches at the end of the season. In the other semifinal, Owensboro Catholic and Daviess County face off again after playing two close contests in the regular season.
The District 12 Tournament also begins today and is hosted by Edmonson County. Trinity plays Butler County following the opening match between Grayson County and Edmonson County.
The district champions and runners-up will advance to the Region 3 Tournament next week. The winner of the region advances to the state tournament set for Oct. 26-28 at Valley High School.
APOLLO vs. OWENSBORO
Apollo ran through the district undefeated this season and will be a strong favorite against Owensboro, who wasn’t able to get a win in district play.
The E-Gals come into match after winning the Toyota of Hopkinsville Western Kentucky Smackdown. They also placed second in the Apollo Summer Slam earlier this year, and won their bracket of the JCIV Tournament a few weeks ago.
“They’ve earned everything they’ve gotten,” said head coach MaryAnne Howard. They’ve worked very hard. It’s been a great season and it’s reflective of the girls we have and the team chemistry we have.”
While Howard feels good about where her team is, she knows they can’t look too far ahead.
“We’ve had great in-season district play, so going into the tournament we feel very confident,” she said. “Our girls are still hungry and want to do the best they can in the district. I think we’re not going to take anything for granted.”
The Red Devils struggled to find wins during a season riddled with injuries. It caused some growing pains, but head coach Melissa Hibbs said she has a positive outlook going forward.
“From the beginning of the season, we’ve lost three starters to injuries,” she said. “Right now, we’re playing with three eighth-graders, and they’re holding their own. That just shows you that we’re going to be a strong team in the future and build on our experiences from this year.”
That doesn’t mean they are going to go down without a fight. Hibbs said they know it will be a tough task, but they want to play hard against Apollo.
“Going in, we know we have nothing to lose at this point,” she said. “We know we have to play our ‘A’ game. I think we’re ready. Hopefully we go out there and play loose and show that we want it.”
OWENSBORO CATHOLIC vs. DAVIESS COUNTY
In the other half of the bracket, the Lady Aces and Lady Panthers will square off for the third time after OCHS won both regular season matches 3-1.
Daviess County was on a roll early in the year, and their only two losses in the first 10 games came in a talented field at the Apollo Summer Slam. They faltered down the stretch, dropping their last five matches of the season.
Owensboro Catholic was nearly the opposite, as they started 0-5 before turning things around. They rattled off five wins in a row, then went on an eight-game win streak midway through the season.
The Lady Aces took down Trinity in the Region 3 All “A” Tournament to advance to state, and they also picked up three victories at the Quad State Tournament a few weeks ago.
TRINITY vs. BUTLER COUNTY
Trinity had a hot start to the season by going 18-3, with two losses at the Apollo Summer Slam and the other to Owensboro Catholic at the Region 3 All “A” Tournament. The Lady Raiders also went 6-0 in district play until they were swept by Grayson County in the final week.
“Grayson is a solid team,” said Trinity head coach Adam Huff. “They are a lot like us. They don’t have as much power, but they make up for it in other ways. If you make mistakes, they’re going to capitalize on them.”
Huff said he was somewhat surprised the Lady Raiders were so successful throughout the year because it was the first time playing varsity for several players, but a strong core helped Trinity prevail more often than not.
“This is the best front row I’ve had in a long time from top to bottom,” he said. “If we can take advantage of that, I think we’ll be ok.”