GRC volleyball ends near decade-long losing streak to Harrison Co.

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

If there’s anything long-time sports fans have learned, it’s that streaks often get broken.

One such streak ended in Clark County on Thursday, Aug. 24.

In their home opener, the George Rogers Clark High School Lady Cards volleyball team (6-4) defeated 10th Region foe Harrison County (5-2) for the first time since 2014.

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“I think it just shows the grit of our team this season,” said GRC head coach Kainan Hudson. “We knew they were [going] to have some different attack styles as far as tipping a lot and having their center attack the second ball, and we did a great job defending that. The classic saying ‘Defense wins championships’ was very true for us.”

When the Lady Cards defeated the Lady Thorobreds for the second time in 2014 during the 10th Region tournament, few could have envisioned that Harrison County would continue to prove victorious over the next ten matchups.

However, with GRC facing a rebuild at times and Harrison County consistently being a top-ranked team in the 10th Region – in addition to winning multiple 38th District Championships – fate was not on the Lady Cards’ side.

Early on Thursday, the story appeared much the same, as the Lady Thorobreds built a lead as high as 15 in the opening set.

“I think our nerves were involved with [it] being our first home game,” Hudson said. “We started out really slow as far as what we wanted to do as a team and as a group.”

Despite losing the set 25-17, Hudson felt that – as the team cut into the deficit with a strong comeback – they picked up some momentum going into the second set.

“By the time that second set started, we just really fed off of what we’d just done in that first set,” Hudson said. “I think the mentality for us flipped pretty quickly as soon as we realized that it was a game that we could control, and we just had to make sure that [our] defense was doing their job and keeping the ball up for us so our offense could make their plays to score.”

From there, the Lady Cards were able to beat the Lady Thorobreds in consecutive sets by scores of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-13.

Statistically, senior Kelsey McKeehan finished with 41 of the team’s 49 assists, with freshman returning starter Mia Pendley leading with 18 kills and senior Jordan Thompson contributing 13.

Senior Ella Lowe had 22 digs, while senior Kamryn Toler and Pendley finished with 15 and 11.

Describing the team’s composure as “outstanding,” Hudson noted that he has seen it change since first taking over in 2021.

“In years past, we probably could’ve easily just said, ‘well, it’s just not our night,’” he said, noting the team understood it could play differently. “I think our senior leadership really was the key to that success, as well as those juniors knowing we’ve all been through this. Our seniors stepped up in that leadership. Our juniors stepped up in the role of [providing] the energy and the atmosphere, keeping everyone calm, and having fun.”

Not letting the surroundings go unnoticed, Hudson recognized the environment that filled GRC Arena.

“[We had] a pretty good crowd with it being our first home game; a very exciting atmosphere,” Hudson said.

The Lady Cards went 3-2 during the Dink Scott Memorial Tournament in Montgomery County last weekend. They defeated Lincoln County twice (21-25, 25-16, 15-7; 25-20, 20-25, 15-13) and Rowan County (25-11, 25-13). But fell in defeat to Scott (25-8, 25-13) and Ashland Blazer (25-19, 25-13).

GRC lost in straight sets to Trinity Christian 25-21, 25-21 and 25-23 on Monday.

Following an away match against Madison Central on Wednesday, GRC will visit Bourbon County in a 40th District clash. They face 10th Region opponent Pendleton County in a road match next Tuesday.