By John Lachmann
INDEPENDENCE, Ky. – A match has to be extremely close for a team to average 24 points a game and lose.
But that’s what happened to Simon Kenton, which fell to defending regional champion North Oldham, 30-28, 25-23, 20-25, 25-19 in a Region 8 semifinal at Simon Kenton on Wednesday.
The Mustangs advanced to the state semifinals in 2011 and 2012.
“It’s tough, but like I told (my players) I can’t ask for anything more,” Simon Kenton coach Andrea Atwood said. “That was the most even match in this tournament. I knew we matched up well with them and it was all going to be about which way the ball fell. We had phenomenal play – I asked them to leave it on the court, they gave me 110 percent for four games.”
The Pioneers led the opening game, 18-10, but the Mustangs slowly trimmed the deficit until knotting it at 24. The teams traded the next eight points before freshman Ryan Foote tapped the ball over the net, and in fell in the front court, and she blasted a shot to seal it.
“We talked about that – we’ve got to finish,” Atwood said. “When you’re up that way, you finish, and we’ve let several games slip away like that through the year. And that was one of the things we really needed to focus on tonight.”
Simon Kenton (28-9) trailed most of game two, dropping the first three points and falling behind by as many as six, but the Pioneers even at 21.
But Simon Kenton committed consecutive errors, and sophomore Jennifer Rebbin iced it by smashing a shot that deflected off the Pioneers’ front line and out of bounds.
In game three, neither team could pull away early, and senior defensive specialist Kelsey Schmiade served seven straight points, including four aces, as Simon Kenton held on for a five-point win.
It looked like the Pioneers might force a fifth game, as they won the first five points, but North Oldham (26-9) stormed back to tie it at seven and won six of the final eight points to clinch it.
Four players up front, especially senior Hailey Foote, caused Simon Kenton fits the entire match.
“We knew that they had some big blocks,” Atwood said. “We worked really hard on coverage and being behind the block and putting the ball away from them.”
Pioneers senior outside hitter Kaitlin Murray set a career high in kills with 26, including winners on the final three points of the match and her career. She also recorded four blocks.
Senior setter Sophie Dunn also set a personal best for Simon Kenton, dishing for 68 assists.
SCOTT SINKS HOST MONTGOMERY COUNTY – Scott advances to the regional championship match for the second straight year as the Eagles won at Montgomery County, 25-15, 23-25, 25-19, 25-12 in a Region 10 semifinal.
Sophomore outside hitter Jessica Tapp tallied 13 kills to pace Scott.
Senior middle hitters Faith and Claire Gerhardstein – who are twins – recorded nine kills each in the Eagles’ win.
CAMPBELL COUNTY BEATS HARRISON – The Camels are headed to their third straight regional final as they beat the Thorobreds, 25-10, 26-24, 25-12 in a Region 10 semifinal at Montgomery County.
Junior outside hitter Kirby Seiter led Campbell County with 14 kills and four aces, and senior middle hitter Dixie Schultz also finished with a double-digit kills total, recording 10.
Junior setter Carson Gray tallied 35 assists for the Camels, who will play Scott in the title match at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.