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Patriots push past Danville in straight sets

With points coming in flurries and seemingly no lead safe, volleyball can hinge greatly upon which team has momentum. So when it rests on one side of the court, it’s important to make sure it stays there.

After battling Danville in a close first game, Lincoln County stepped on the gas in the final two games and cruised to a 3-0 win (25-17, 25-15, 25-10) in the 45th District tournament Tuesday at Boyle County.

“Volleyball, you go up and down a lot so you want to use your consistency quickly before you start falling off,” Lincoln coach Sam Torres said. “We did well with not falling off, stayed high intensity the entire time, so it was really good.”

Danville coach Maggie Myers said her team’s habit is to fall behind early in matches and face big deficits, but the Admirals were up 5-3 early in Tuesday’s first game. From there, though, the Patriots went on an 11-4 run to take a 14-9 lead.

“That’s been a theme for our season,” Myers said. “We tend to spot some teams points with some silly plays early on and then end up having to dig back out of a hole. The first set, we came really close to doing that successfully, but when we are giving away early points on unforced errors, it creates a situation where it’s too little, too late.”

In the second game, the Patriots (17-13) opened a 15-5 lead, and while Danville chipped it down to 16-11, they never lost composure or allowed the Ads back into it, stretching a 19-12 lead to 23-12.

“That comes with a lot of reps, a lot of experience,” Torres said. “We’ve worked really hard at that.

“It was easy to keep our focus because we never count anyone out,” she added. “We know no matter who you play, they can take you if you don’t bring your A game. We focus on the little things we could control, fixing our mental errors and limiting our mistakes.”

Lincoln started the third game with an 8-0 run and consistently held a double-digit lead through the rest of the game.

Danville was without two of its seniors due to illness and other factors, and it was evident with a good share of misplayed balls and teammates waiting for each other to go after digs.

“The younger girls I asked to step in and fill those holes were so coachable and worked so hard, but you could tell the chemistry that develops between girls and the athletes they’re used to playing next to just wasn’t there,” Myers said.

The Patriots had a strong service game, led by Taryn Johnson’s six aces; Jasmine Whited and Savanna Smith each added four. Whited also had 14 assists.

Jessie Wilson led the Patriots at the net with six kills. Peyton Griffin had four kills, and Johnson and Smith each had three.

The Patriots next face Boyle County in the district championship at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Patriots lost the first two times they faced the Rebels this season before beating Boyle 3-1 in late September.

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn