Harrison County has had a stranglehold on the 38th District since 2013, claiming five straight titles. Last fall, the Fillies went a perfect 8-0 in district play and took all 22 sets they played within the district, but this fall Robertson County, Pendleton County and Nicholas County will look to make it a different story.
Here’s a brief look at each team in the 38th District:
The Lady Devils are coming off of a 6-22 season and were the No. 11 ranked team in the 2018 10th Region Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Rankings, after losing two seniors from last year’s team.
While it was only two players – Julia McCloud and Keeley Massey – gone from graduation, it’ll be two big spots to fill for Robertson County coach Ann Grause.
“They were go-to players and really good friends. It was more than just a player and coach relationship,” said Grause. “I counted on them for a lot of things and they came through. One helped all summer and it’s been a big help.”
The Lady Devils return three seniors. Carley Turner and Jenna Brown are expected to start, while Eden Thayer is expected to contribute off the bench. Grause has also seen an increase in interest in the program this fall.
“Well, I’ve got more human beings this year than the last couple of years,” joked Grause. “I have three returning seniors – two will be starters and one will fill in.”
She’s also be looking for several younger girls to step up this season, including a junior class that features four returning players and one new player. Grause expects setter Abri Roberts to serve as a floor general this year and Kamryn Kendall to be one of the team’s heavy hitters, in addition to Turner.
“You’ve just got to encourage the girls coming up and cross your fingers that one will step up and be that person,” said Grause. “It takes some nudging when they don’t know you’re nudging. You’ve got to encourage them and boost their confidence so they become that player.”
Robertson County fell in the 38th District semifinals to Nicholas County last year, 3-1 (25-21, 25-18, 19-25, 25-21), and haven’t advanced to the 10th Region Tournament since the 2012 season. The Lady Devils will get good measuring stick games with two contests with the Lady Jackets in August, including a 10th Region All “A” Classic game on the 21st. They’ll also see Pendleton County on Sept. 4 and Harrison County a week later. The Lady Devils get Nicholas County again on Sept. 25, before the postseason begins.
“I’m just ready for it to start,” said Grause. “Lets have that first serve and get the ball rolling.”
The Fillies feel as if they should be in the mix for the region title again this year, after posting the best season in program history during the 2017 campaign. William Faulkner, a dentist in Cynthiana, started the program in 2001 and is still aiming for his first 10th Region title. Harrison County lost defensive specialist Shelbi Morris for last year’s squad, but return everybody else, according to Faulkner. They’re ranked third in the 10th Region Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Rankings, behind only Campbell County and Scott.
“With our experience we feel we should be competitive in both the district and region,” said Faulkner in an email to The Ledger Independent. “I guess our big goal would be to win the Region, but just play well and to be in the mix for a distinct and region title would be great.”
Harrison County started the season at 34-0, before a loss to Scott, 2-0 (25-8, 25-12). He plans to play Katie Stonich and Kelsey Gifford on the left side, Sydney Morris and Destiny Kinney in the middle and Melony Dunaway and Sarah Dunaway on the right side, with Emma Gooden at setter and Emma Wallace as the libero. Stonich, Morris and and Gifford were the team’s kill leaders throughout the season, with Wallace leading in digs.
“We hit pretty well from all five positions. Blocking also a strength due to size. Melony and Destiny both over 6’. Sydney plays that way,” said Faulkner. “Biggest strength probably is ball handling and relentless pursuit of the ball on defense.”
The Fillies won the 38th District last year and fell to Campbell County, 3-0 (25-15, 25-23, 25-18) in the 10th Region Tournament.
The LadyCats ran into Harrison County in the semifinals of the 38th District Tournament last fall, and will look to replace seniors Kennedy Dunn, Carson Mayes, Emily McBee and Hannah Miller from that team.
“The team needs to work together as a team and communicate well with each other to be successful this season,” said Pendleton County coach Laura Buck in an email to The Ledger Independent.
Senior outside hitter Olivia Miracle and junior outside hitter Savannah Tillett are the two players from Pendleton County that appeared on the preseason region players to watch list.
Pendleton County beat Robertson County in their only meeting last year, split two meetings with Nicholas County and fell to Harrison County three times. Those matches in the regular season this fall could serve as a good measuring stick. They landed at seventh in the preseason region rankings.
“I think most of the teams in the district and region lost some key players so winning regionals could be up for grabs for any of the teams,” said Buck. “We are hoping to have a successful season this year.”
The LadyCats are scheduled to open the season against Harrison County on Aug. 13.
The Lady Jackets went 14-16 last season, knocking off Robertson County, 3-1 (25-21, 25-18, 19-25, 22-21), to advance to the district final and the 10th Region Tournament.
Nicholas County had three seniors listed on last season’s roster in Victoria Arms, Alexia Buchanan and Kayley Letcher. They’re predicted to be the 12th-best team in the 10th Region this season, according to the 10th Region Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Rankings.
Nicholas County coach Penny Bretz did not respond to an email seeking additional information on the team.
Nicholas County is scheduled to open the season on Aug. 9 against Fleming County. The match is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Carlisle.