Western Hills' Nikki Shouse, right, hits the ball as Franklin County's Natalie Dufour (11) and Madie Graves (12) get ready to try and block the ball during Tuesday's match at WHHS. Western Hills won 3-0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-13). (Linda Younkin/State Journal)

In a shortened season, district games and Senior Night can come early.

They did Tuesday for Western Hills’ volleyball team, which defeated Franklin County 25-20, 25-22, 25-13 at WHHS’ Lapsley Cardwell Gymnasium.

It was the district opener for both teams.

The Lady Wolverines came into the game with a 2-1 record, but in the loss at Lexington Catholic they lost senior Alexa Barker to a torn MCL.

“That kind of took the wind out of our sails over the weekend,” WHHS coach Scott Hudson said.

What did he expect in Tuesday’s match?

“What happened,” Hudson said. “I expected them to be aggressive on defense and get all the balls over.

“It took us awhile to figure out how to get the ball on the ground where they couldn’t get the ball back up. How many free balls did they dig out at the back wall? It was amazing, and I went over and told them that after the match.”

The first two sets were close. FCHS fell behind by five points midway through the second set, but rallied within two late before WHHS took the set by three points.

The Lady Wolverines jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set and stayed in front the rest of the way.

“I think we ran out of gas a little bit in the third set,” FCHS coach Dale Adkins said. “I told them after the game I’m proud of them. I thought for the first time since I’ve been coaching we were playing as a team.

“There’s more of a positive energy in the gym, and to me there’s more of a team focus that I haven’t seen since I’ve been coaching here.”

Adkins is in his third year as head coach at FCHS.

“We have a long way to go, but it’s a good group of kids and they work hard,” he said. “They’ll get their reward later in the season.”

Western Hills honored its seniors prior to the match. This year’s seniors are Barker, Nikki Shouse and Lexi Taylor.

“It’s an emotional match, a crosstown rivalry, Senior Night,” Hudson said. “We just had to settle down. I’m proud of them.”

On Thursday, WHHS plays at Mercer County and Franklin County is at Montgomery County.

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