By John Middleton
Perry Central’s Kayla Rankin is one of the state’s best basketball players, but the junior showed Wednesday that she is a top player on the volleyball court as well. The junior controlled the net to lead the Lady Commodores to a 25-19, 20-25, 25-20 victory at Harlan County.
Harlan County led by one early when Rankin scored on a tip to tie it at 5. Perry Central then went on a 17-1 run to take a commanding 22-6 lead. The final 14 points of the run came off of serves from Rankin. Just as it appeared the Lady Dores would cruise to the win, Harlan County made a run of its own.
Breanna Dunson started the rally with A pair of service points that closed the gap to 23-11. Dunson’s serve was into the net on the next point, but the Lady Bears quickly began another comeback effort.
This time it was Rebecca Eldridge that power the rally. The Lady Bears scored the next eight points, with four coming on Eldridge’s service, to make it 24-19. However, Whitney Steven’s tip went into the net on the next point as Perry held on for the set.
“They worked hard and came back. I am proud of them,” Vicini said.
The Lady Bears responded with a win in the second set. The teams traded points early, before Stevens reeled off three straight service points to put the Lady Bears up 10-5. A spike from Rankin tied the game at 12, but the Lady Bears never relinquished the lead. Chyanna Harris pushed the lead to four with a return point, followed by a service point and an ace., and Harlan County held on for the win.
The Lady Bears fell behind early in the third and final set as Rankin scored five of the first seven points, and the Lady Commodores went up 7-0.
However, Harlan County again refused to go away. Cara Middleton led the comeback effort for the Lady Bears. Middleton tied the game at 16 with a tip point. After Dunson’s serve went out, Middleton tied the game again with another tip point. The Lady Bears were unable to claim the lead though, as Perry closed on an 8-3 run to claim the set and the match.
“We have worked on that and tell them that if they get down they just have to work that much harder,” Vicini said.
Harlan County (5-2) will host Whitley County today, while Perry Central (3-3) will travel to Pikeville.