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."