By John Middleton
The Harlan County Lady Bears picked up their third straight victory and second straight in the district with a 25-15, 25-21 victory over cross-town rival Harlan on Thursday.
“It’s good to get off to a good start in the district, but they are not playing up to par right now,” said Harlan County coach Donna Vicini.
The teams were tied at four early in the opening set, but junior Whitney Stevens scored three of the next four points as the Lady Bears began to take control. Seniors Rebecca Eldridge and Keisha Mimes followed with two points each in a 5-1 run that allowed Harlan County to take control.
“Whitney got us going in the first set,” Vicini said.
A service point by Harlan’s Taylor Hall brought Harlan to within five at 15-10, but the Lady Bears went on a 3-1 run, capped by a tip point from Cara Middleton, to put the game out of reach.
The Lady Dragons jumped out to an early lead in the second set.
Hall put the Lady Dragons up 2-0 with a pair of service points to open the set. However, the Lady Bears quickly responded and a pair of spikes by senior Breanna Dunson gave Harlan County a 5-4 advantage.
“Breanna played real well at the net tonight,” said Vicini.
The teams exchanged leads from that point, with neither going up by more than four points.
Hall had a spike late in the match to give Harlan a 20-18 lead, but Harlan County answered once again. The Lady Bears closed the set and the match on a 7-1 run that ended with a Harlan return into the net.
“I think they just get frustrated when they don’t do something perfect,” said Harlan coach Tara Bailey. “We have lost two starters to injuries, so this is another game that they are just trying to adjust and mesh together.”
Harlan County rolled to a 21-13, 21-11 victory in the junior varsity contest.
Lauren Lee paced the Lady Bears with six tips and one dig.
Harlan County won 11-17, 17-11, 17-9 in the freshman contest.
Sasha Simpson had three tips, two aces and two tips in the three sets to lead the Lady Bears.
Harlan County (4-1) returns to action Monday as it plays host to Jenkins, while Harlan (2-1) will host Clay County.
In previously unreported action, the Lady Bears downed Middlesboro 25-16, 25-9 in their district opener on Wednesday.
Eldridge led the 3-1 Lady Bears with three points and a spike in the first set and five points, two aces and one kill in the second set. Stevens had three points, one ace, two tips and two kills in the first set and three spikes and two kills in the second. Dunson added one tip and one kill in the first set and two tips and one point in the second. Cheyenna Harris had one point in the first set and three points, two aces and one spike in the second. Mimes had two points in the first set. Middleton contributed one tip and one point in the first set and one tip in the second.
The Lady Bears won 21-13, 21-8 in junior varsity action.
Charleigh Mefford led HCHS with three points, one ace and one spike in the first set and one point in the second. Brittany Clem had a tip and point in the first set and three points, one ace and one tip in the second. Lee had four points, one ace and two tips in the first set and one kill, one tip and one point in the second. Candice Huff had three points in the second set. Katelyn Reynolds two tips and a spike in the first set and one point in the second. Shelby Cowan had four aces in the second set.