Middlesboro Daily News
MIDDLESBORO - The Harlan Lady Dragons upset Bell County in four sets in Monday’s 52nd District semifinal match, winning 25-18, 21-25, 25-22 and 25-23.
Senior Taylor Hall led the way for Harlan with eleven kills and four blocks in the match. She also added 16 service points, including three aces. Amber Rouse also had 17 service points for the Lady Dragons.
“Her kills were outstanding. I was amazed at her,” Bell coach Amber Hinkle said of Hall’s big night. “This was a totally different ball club than what we faced during the season.”
Harlan coach Tara Posey said it was the team’s goal to get their seniors to the district championship match. “We’ve got a group of seniors that wanted to work hard so they could get to the district finals and the region. It meant a lot to be able to pull them through and get them to that spot,” she said, adding that Hall always plays a big role for the Lady Dragons.
“That’s obviously our plan every game. We want to get her as many hits on the ball as we can. They did a real good job of getting the ball to her tonight.”
Sophomore Katie Jarvis led the Lady Cats with nine kills in the match. Freshman Danielle Parks and junior Courtney Cinnamon had 15 service point each, with Parks delivering five aces. Senior Sydney Gray played well in her final match for Bell County with five kills, three blocks and eight service points.
The Lady Cats were undone by an uncharacteristic 18 service errors and also struggled to organize their offense. Hinkle said part of the reason was a stomach bug going through the team, the other was the strong play of the Lady Dragons.
The first set was tight most of the way through with Harlan taking a 19-18 lead on a Bell service error. Hall came on to serve and closed out the set. She ripped one ace and two other serves that the Lady Cats weren’t able to return. Taylor Cochran added a kill during the run as the Lady Dragons took the set 25-18.
Parks helped Bell take the lead in set two, using her jump serve to record a pair of aced during a 7-0 run to put the Lady Cats up 9-5.
Harlan was able to close the gap and eventually take the lead, but a kill from Jarvis tied the score at 21 and Cinnamon came on and served out the set. She fired off four straight serves that the Lady Dragons couldn’t get back over the net and Bell took the second set 25-21.
Paige Woodsby put the Lady Dragons up 5-0 in the third set with her strong serving and Hall later added five service points of her own for a 15-10 lead. A kill from Parks got the Lady Cats as close as 18-17, but a foot fault on the following serve put Harlan back in control.
Rouse came on to serve and Hall had a pair of kills during a quick 3-0 run and the Lady Dragons went on to take the lead with a 25-22 win.
In the fourth set, Harlan got strong serving efforts from Rouse, Becky Posey and Hall as they built a commanding 18-9 lead. But the Lady Cats didn’t go away quietly.
Gray had three service points and Cinnamon added six and Jarvis added three kills during a 12-2 run that put Bell on top 22-21. Posey ended the run with a bump kill for a point and a strong serve from Hall was returned into the net for a 23-22 lead.
Jarvis answered with a kill, but the Lady Cats hit a serve into the net and then hit a ball out after Cochran’s serve as Harlan took set four 25-23 and the match.
The Lady Dragons played in their pink T-shirts in honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “We have a lot of families in our school that have had a parent pass away this school year with cancer. We just decided the whole month of October to wear as much pink as we could,” Coach Posey said.
Bell County ends the season with a record of 7-22. Harlan (8-9) advanced to face Harlan County in the 52nd District championship game today at 7 p.m. in Middlesboro.
“It’s good to have another chance at them,” Posey said. “As long as everyone keeps communicating like they have been, hopefully we can play as well as we did against Bell. We hadn’t beat Bell all year either.”