By Chip Cosby
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Notre Dame volleyball team is fully aware of who's on the other side of the State Tournament bracket this weekend.
But judging the Pandas on how they took care of business in the first round, they don't seem too worried about Mercy or Assumption just yet.
Notre Dame, ranked No. 3 in the state behind top-ranked Mercy and No. 2 Assumption, put away Campbell County in three sets Friday night (25-10, 25-10, 25-12) at Valley High School's J.C. Cantrell Gymnasium.
Next up for the Pandas is a Saturday 2:30 quarterfinal matchup with Green County, and if they survive that, they'll play the winner of Henry Clay-Logan County at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night.
So while the ultimate goal is Sunday's championship game against either Mercy or Assumption, Notre Dame Coach Andrea Lanham realizes that's a long way. And that attitude reflected in her team's play against Campbell County.
Senior Heidi Thelen led the Panda attack with 14 kills, while junior Abby Thelen had seven. Senior setter Elly Ogle set the pace with 27 assists.
"That's kind of been our goal all year, to approach things one game at a time," Lanham said. "You have to win the first game to get to the next game and just get better after that. I really liked how we approached things out there tonight." 237
The Pandas have been slowed by injuries for much of the season but now appear to be rounding into form at just the right time. A benefit of the early-season injuries for Lanham was the chance to develop a sophomore class that has served as a nice supplement for her senior-laded squad down the stretch.
"We couldn't have picked a better moment to start peaking," Lanham said. "We've definitely had our obstacles. But we've got some talented sophomores, and a lot of them got a good amount of experience this year. The depth has been important, but what's the most important is that this team enjoys playing together and enjoys being around each other. That's the key component to most championship teams."
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Freshman right-hander T.C. Eads threw his first career no-hitter as Ludlow blanked Calvary Christian.
Junior first baseman Rachel Hall singled home two to key a four-run fourth inning as Scott beat Grant County.
Sophomore Nathan Eberhard won in three sets, improving to 7-4 at first singles as Conner beat Boone County.
Junior right-hander Hayden Molitor went the distance to earn his second win of the season as Lloyd edged Ludlow.
Senior right-hander Rachel Carroll tossed a one-hitter as Campbell County blanked Lloyd.
Sophomore Nathan Eberhard battled to a first-singles win as Conner shut out Campbell County, in an NKAC semifinal.
Junior center fielder Blaise Ostertag doubled in two in the bottom of the fourth to lift Conner to a win over Scott.
Freshman center fielder Hailey Nicholas singled up the middle with no outs in the bottom of the eighth to lift Cooper to a win over Campbell County.
Sophomore Sheldon Preisler won his eighth straight match to open the season as Boone County edged Lloyd, 3-2 on Wednesday.
Sophomore Erin Mogus remained perfect through five matches with her win at third singles as Cooper shut out Covington Latin.