It wasn’t as clean as Fleming County coach Nick Thrasher would have liked, but the result still landed in his team’s favor.
The Lady Panthers were able to fight off St. Patrick in their season opener, 2-0 (25-16, 25-19), on Wednesday at The Shamrock, while the Lady Saints fell for the second straight night.
“Overall, I’m really happy. We had some girls that had some hiccups serving. We had some girls that had some missteps that I think some of my young ones – this is the first real varsity game that Macie’s [Hughes] played in and she’s going to be awesome for us, but it’s just that everybody’s young. Our newcomer – Grace Morris – I think she showed herself a little bit tonight, some of the things she’s capable of,” said Thrasher.
“We’re just kind of looking forward to getting some more games under our belt. Like I said, it’s early, so we don’t really know what any of it’s going to look like in two weeks yet. I try to take it two weeks at a time,” added Thrasher. “It’s an eight-week season, so I try to take it two weeks at a time and kind of reassess at that point.”
St. Patrick was coming off of a three-set loss to 39th District foe Bracken County on Tuesday, 2-1 (26-28, 25-20, 25-23), and hung tough for the first few points in the first set on Wednesday, taking a 3-2 lead.
“I think we were just a little bit out of gas tonight,” said St. Patrick assistant coach Angie Brant, who was filling in as head coach Chuck Hamilton couldn’t make the match due to an injury. “I think last night’s game was so exciting and it was very competitive. It just took a lot out of us tonight.”
Fleming County found a grove from there, going on a 12-3 run started by a kill from Analeise Mitchell, who led the Lady Panthers with eight in the match.
“I’m super happy with the way our outsides ran. Analeise is just awesome. Because of the contact she can make and being left handed, it throws everybody off, because the angle is funny on everybody. Gracie [Fearin] can cut the ball really, really well. There’s no real middle ground with her. It’s either a hard cross on the 10-foot line or two inches off of the sideline,” said Thrasher.
“It had a lot to do with our hands,” added Thasher. “Our passing was there, was on point. Carly [Dunaway] and Lauren Moran were really on point there early and Ashley [Watson] and Abby [Thomas] were both passing really, really well in those rotations, and because of that, we were able to run a little bit faster-paced offense, which both of my outsides actually prefer, probably mostly due to the fact that they’re always early on their approach, so if the setter can get the ball out there faster, it actually looks better. She was able to find the seam on them.”
A Justina Klee kill made it 17-10 in the set, but a St. Patrick error was followed by an ace from Abby Thomas to give Fleming County a nine-point advantage. Three straight errors, a kill from Mercedes Hedgecock and an ace from Caroline McKay got the Lady Saints within four.
The Lady Panthers were able to close out the set with a 6-1 run from there, ending it, 25-16, on a serve from Mitchell that wasn’t returned.
A kill from Kathryn Burke capped off a 5-0 Fleming County run in the second set, making it 8-4 in favor of the Lady Panthers. They extended the lead to five at 12-7 with an ace from Burke and 13-8 with a St. Patrick error, but the Lady Saints rallied back to get within two after a few Fleming County miscues and a big kill from Klee.
“There were some bright spots tonight too,” said Brant. “Of course, there’s things we need to work on. We didn’t communicate well. We need to really work on those kills, but I feel like we did a good job tonight.”
After a string of mishits from both teams, Fleming County clung to a 17-13 lead, but once again St. Patrick got within two with a kill from Elizabeth Hubbard.
It was answered with a kill from Watson, one from Mitchell and then Watson’s third of the match to take a 21-16 advantage.
Watson’s kill was followed by a service error and two more Fleming County mistakes, making it 21-19, before Fleming County closed out the match with the final four points, the final of which came when Gracie Fearin tipped the ball over the net with her right hand.
“I think we didn’t communicate and we were tired. That’s all I can really say. They’re a really well-coached team. They have everything down,” said Brant. “To stick with them and then to come back and compete with them – that’s a really good plus for us.”
Fleming County improves to 1-0 with the win and will hit the road again on Thursday for a 7 p.m. match at Nicholas County.
St. Patrick falls to 0-2 with the loss. The Lady Saints are scheduled to play for the third night in a row on Thursday when Robertson County makes the trip to Maysville. The match is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Fleming County def. St. Patrick, 2-0 (25-16, 25-19)
Aces: Fleming County 11 (Burke 3), St. Patrick 3 (Stewart 2)
Kills: Fleming County 22 (Mitchell 8), St. Patrick 7 (Klee, Hedgecock 2)
Service Errors: Fleming County 8, St. Patrick 4
Errors: Fleming County 17, St. Patrick 13
Records: Fleming County 1-0, St. Patrick 0-2