Western Hills executed a perfect rally to win the third game in the first round of the 41st District Tournament, but it wasn’t enough to win the match against the Lady Flyers.
Franklin County (20-14, 3-2) took control early to defeat the Lady Wolverines 3-1 (25-19, 25-17, 21-25, 25-20) on Tuesday night at Franklin County High School. The Lady Flyers advance to the championship round tonight against Woodford County.
“We played slow and then sped it up,” FCHS coach Wesley Vance said. “Then in the third game, they brought it to us. They got the momentum and they ended up taking it. In the fourth, we regrouped.
“We have a very levelheaded group. They’ll get frustrated, but they do a really good job of shaking it off. They never quit fighting. They are always in it.”
FCHS senior Marybeth Mucci hit a kill to win the first game 25-19. In the second, the Lady Flyers led by four early before WHHS pulled within one at 7-6. But a Lady Wolverine error and Mucci kill jolted FCHS to a 5-0 run and a 25-17 victory.
The third game looked to end like the ones before it. FCHS, having led from the beginning, started pouring it on topping the Lady Wolverines 16-10. But that’s when WHHS came to play. The Lady Wolverines went on a six-point run to tie the game at 16 all. A kill from senior Caitlin Mullins gave WHHS its first lead since the beginning of the first game.
The two teams tied twice more before senior Nenna Eneje’s block put WHHS up by two, 22-20. Back-to-back blocks at the net from Eneje gave the Lady Wolverines the 25-21 win and kept them alive.
“Winning that third game really put the fire underneath them,” WHHS coach Kristi Buffenmyer said.
At game point for FCHS, 24-17 in the fourth game, Buffenmyer saw her team rally again. Brooklyn Etherington hit back-to-back kills to pull the Wolverines within four points. But an error at the net for WHHS gave the Lady Flyers the 25-20 win.
“For whatever reason, they didn’t have it in them for the fourth game,” Buffenmyer said. “They did start to rally back, but it was too late at that point. They were at game point and we were at 17 points down. We were fighting, fighting and fighting, but when you’re that close, you can’t afford to make any mistakes.”
The loss ended the Lady Wolverines’ season. Buffenmyer said the game doesn’t define how they played all season. WHHS ends the season with a 14-19, 0-5 record.
“It has been a great ride,” she said. ‘They’ve been a great group of kids. I’ve enjoyed coaching them. We’ve worked hard and pulled together. This one game doesn’t define us, that’s for sure. This didn’t look like us out here tonight.”
The win gives FCHS berths to both the championship match against Woodford County and the regional tournament.
Woodford County (19-15, 4-0) beat the Lady Flyers 1-3 twice on Aug. 30 and Sept. 20. Vance said “they aren’t supposed to win,” but that’s fine with him.
“It is nice being the underdog,” he said. “They beat us twice, four sets each time. We already know we’re going to regionals and we’re not supposed to beat Woodford County. We’ve played against them twice shorthanded – sickness in one, injury in the other –but this time, we’ll have a full team with everyone. It could happen.”
Woodford County, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, and Franklin County face off tonight at 6 in the district championship match.