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Casey falls in first round to Southwestern

NICHOLASVILLE — Before last year, the Casey County volleyball team had made six straight appearances in the 12th Region tournament. And after the one-year hiatus, the Rebels were back for Tuesday’s match against 48th District champion Southwestern.

While Casey lost in three straight sets (25-19, 25-17, 25-19), advancing to the region was a step back in the right direction for the team, according to coach Angie McQueary.

“We didn’t make it to regionals last year, got beat in the districts, so I’m proud of the girls,” she said.

The three-game sweep felt like anything but. The Rebels (16-10) held a five-point lead in the first game and a four-point lead in the second, but each time the Warriors (17-17) marched back and took the game wins.

Strong serving from Hannah Lynn helped the Rebels take a 14-9 lead in the first, but Southwestern went on a 9-2 run, which included two aces, to take an 18-16 lead en route to the opening win.

The Rebels once again started strong in the second game, holding a 9-5 lead when Lacy Brown recorded the second of her two kills to open the game. It didn’t take long for the Warriors to answer, though, as they reeled off seven straight points and 16 of the next 18 to take a commanding 21-11 lead.

“I think they played very well individually, we just didn’t click as a team and that was their big issue,” McQueary said. “We did play good against them.”

The Warriors were cruising in the third game, leading 19-10, when the Rebels scored five unanswered to cut it to 19-15. But it was too little, too late as Southwestern called a timeout to regroup, holding off the Rebels for the deciding game win.

“It’s wishy-washy with all of them,” McQueary said of her players. “Any of them can play great, and then they’ll have their flaws you would say. It’s really hard for all six of them to click at the same time. We’ve done that a couple times this year and played awesome.”

Ending their season in the region tournament was quite the turnaround for a team which started the season 2-5. Casey went 13-3 entering the 47th District tournament, where it beat Rockcastle County in four games and lost to Pulaski County in the championship in three.

Pulaski will meet Boyle County in today’s first region semifinal from West Jessamine while the host Colts, who beat Lincoln County on Tuesday, will host Southwestern.

With a strong six-person junior class returning next year — led by outsider hitters Brown and Brookley Davis and setter Myla McGowan — it looks as though the Rebels are ready to start another run of consecutive region appearances.

“I think we’ve done great,” McQueary said. “I’m proud of the girls.”

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn