A fast-paced attack propelled Owensboro Catholic to a home win over rival Apollo on the first night of 9th District volleyball action Tuesday, as the Lady Aces took down the E-Gals 3-1 (25-14, 23-25, 25-16, 25-20).
Catholic (5-4, 1-0 9th District) won their third straight match, while Apollo (7-2, 0-1) dropped only the second game all year.
The Lady Aces were the aggressor in the first set, rallying off five unanswered points early that triggered two timeouts by Apollo. Catholic head coach Brian Hardison said that the opening set best exemplified the key components he has been emphasizing with his team.
“One of the things we tell the girls to do is control our side. When we can do that, the other side takes care of itself,” he said. “The girls were advocating for a faster pace, and when they start to put it together, they’re pretty tough.”
Cassidy Towery and Madeline Castlen were big for the Aces, securing 10 and nine kills, respectively. Belle Wright added eight kills, while Cecilia Clemens assisted on 34 points. Jenna Glenn led the team on the defensive side with 15 digs, and Towery added nine of her own.
Some of Catholic’s momentum faded in the second set when Apollo pieced together a 4-0 run to take a 12-9 lead. Following a timeout, the Lady Aces tied the set before alternating points ensued.
Apollo’s Brylee Rhodes finally got one past Catholic’s back row for the winning point to tie the match at 1-1.
Apollo head coach MaryAnne Howard complimented the Lady Aces’ efforts and alluded to some areas the E-Gals must improve upon moving forward.
“They came out extremely aggressive. They were serving it hard and hitting it hard, and we had a little trouble converting our passes into offense in the beginning,” she said. “We regrouped from that, but in the end, we didn’t connect on our offense and that starts with our passing.”
Senior Hallie Wilson played a pivotal role in the E-Gals’ defense with 10 digs, while classmate Whitley Chambers recorded nine kills to guide the offense. Anslee Hopewell assisted on nine points and Rhodes added seven kills.
“(Rhodes) has been big for us both offensively and defensively all season,” Howard said. “She’s been super solid in the middle, and we will continue to look to build off her. We had a lot of people play great tonight. Whitley played excellent on the outside and those are things we will continue to work on through the season.”
Catholic secured the third set in runaway fashion. They threatened to do so again in the fourth set, but Apollo put together a rally to remain within striking distance. The Lady Aces gave away several points on errant serves, an area that Hardison said needs much improvement.
“We missed way too many serves,” he said. “There towards the end, I was feeling a little push, and I think the girls were, too. That’s why I called a timeout.”
Both programs will look to use Tuesday’s performances as a building block in preparing for the rest of the 9th District season.
“We knew tonight was going to be a battle,” Hardison said. “Every time we step on the floor we have to be ready.”
Said Howard: “All year long it’s going to be a battle for our district. Every team could win on any given night.”
Apollo resumes play Thursday when they take on Henderson County at home, while Catholic will begin 3rd Regional All “A” Classic play on Saturday.