Boyle gets over hump, beats Garrard in district tourney

In each of the last two years, Garrard County nipped Boyle County in the 45th District tournament final in five-game matches.

While Tuesday’s match came a round earlier, beating the Golden Lions didn’t mean any less to the Rebels, who advance to Thursday’s district final with a 3-1 win (17-25, 27-25, 25-16, 25-18).

Seniors Madison Turney and Lexi Gourley made the most of their chance at redemption Tuesday. Gourley had 15 assists, seven aces, seven digs and one kill, and Turney had 12 digs and two aces. Fellow senior Tori Underwood had a team-high six aces.

“They both have been on the team the last two years that have lost to Garrard in the finals, five sets, losing by two or three points,” Boyle coach Andrea Craig said. “Going into tonight, they knew it was go big or go home. They knew it was all you could take. Whatever you had tonight was going to make or break you going forward or being done with your volleyball careers.

“After the game … (Gourley) immediately fell into her teammates, bawling. She’s like, ‘I’ve waited for this.’”

By the end of the first game Tuesday, some may have been wondering whether this match would end up like the previous two postseason meetings. Boyle held an 8-2 lead before Garrard charged back to tie it at 14-14. The Golden Lions won the final nine points of the game for the win.

Craig wasn’t among those worried, though.

“I believed that we were ready for this,” Craig said. “We knew they were going to come out fighting. We knew it was anybody’s game coming into tonight. Garrard’s got a great team, they really do. But the momentum shifts and head game was the winner tonight.”

Her confidence paid off in the second game, which mirrored the first in every way except for the final result. The Rebels once again opened an 8-2 lead, and Garrard came back to take a 21-17 lead.

But three straight service points from Tessa Linville tied the game at 22-22, and Turney iced the game with an ace.

The momentum from that game carried over into the final two. While Garrard stayed closer at the onset of the third game, Boyle used two great service runs from Mya Van Steenlandt and Gourley to take a 14-10 lead and move to a 24-13 edge.

“We went into that third game after winning that second, and I looked at them before they went on the floor and said, ‘You know where you’re going, you have momentum — keep it. You have the serve, it’s your ball game,’” Craig said.

The Golden Lions (8-22) stayed even with Boyle throughout most of the fourth game — scoring two straight points for a 17-17 tie — but Underwood served for three straight points and Linville closed out the game with three of her own.

“You have to give Boyle credit, they played their butts off,” Garrard coach Rodney Dotson said. “… In the fourth set, a lot of my girls were laying their heads down.”

Brittney Kincaid had six assists, four digs and three kills for the Rebels (16-18), and Sierra Dean had seven kills.

Van Steenlandt was a force at the net, leading the Rebels with 15 kills and adding five digs and three aces.

“You want your best hitter to get the ball as many times as possible, you want as many attempts as you can,” Craig said.

Neek Hocker led the Lions with 10 kills, five blocks and two digs, and Kacy Singleton added six kills and three blocks. Kyla Atkins had 23 assists, and Brooke Atkins had six kills and four aces.

Now the Rebels get a chance at some more redemption, facing Lincoln County in the district championship at 6 p.m. Thursday. While the Rebels won this season’s first two meetings, the Patriots won 3-1 in the final matchup, one of eight losses in Boyle’s final 10 regular season matches.

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn