HOPKINSVILLE — Caldwell County faced Madisonville-North Hopkins for the fourth time this year in the Second Region Tournament championship, and as was the case in the previous three meetings, it ended with a Lady Tiger shutout.
The Lady Tigers won the championship point when a Lady Maroon was called for a foot fault while serving.
Caldwell County swept the Lady Maroons 25-19, 25-10, 25-9 to win its first regional title since 2011. The Lady Tigers will host the First Region champion (either McCracken County or Paducah Tilghman) in the first round of the state tournament at 7 p.m. Monday.
Seniors Abby Griggs, Olivia Mitchell and Kendyll Prowell were named to the all-region team from Caldwell County (19-5).
Caldwell County’s game at the net was the difference, as Mitchell found open spots on the Madisonville-North Hopkins court and Griggs took several passes in a row and spiked or tipped the ball at the opposition.
Caldwell County scored their points in bunches, using solid serves from junior Mary Tays to go from a 14-10 lead to a 20-10 lead in the first set. Tays and senior Riley Thomas each served up four points in the second set, and Tays brought the Lady Tigers to championship point with four straight points in the third set.
Mitchell finished with a match-high 24 kills and nine digs while Griggs added 16 kills, six digs, five blocks and an ace.
Thomas had team-highs with 13 digs and three aces for CCHS, while Prowell handed out 42 assists to go with two aces. Tays had five digs and two aces, while junior Adison Sullenger had five digs and junior Savannah Scott had two blocks.
“Every 10 or 15 points, it looked like Madisonville changed up what they were doing,” said CCHS head coach Daniel Cortner. “They started the first set serving high, low, late movement balls — just really messing up our patience.
“They came out in the second set and they served a lot lower line drives, a little flatter serves. So, hats off to our defense. Our serve receive has been phenomenal.”
Cortner said the team ran a couple of set drills where they would go back to a hitter several times in a row.
“It kind of comes off the zombie movie; it’s called ‘double-tap,’ ” he said. “If you come in and get a big kill, double-tap. Reload it, go right back to the next person and let’s set her again.
“I think we set Abby on five straight balls, and she hit it right at them five straight times, and all they could do was scramble and play it back up. It was reload and swing again, reload and swing again.”
Cortner said the team shares the region championship with all of Caldwell County’s former coaches and player alumnae.
“We talked a little bit today about how every alumna shares a part of this trophy,” he said. “Coach (Sue) Stone shares a massive part of this trophy.
“You go through and you look, and they had a heritage that they passed down to the juniors, to the sophomores, and our traditions here run deep. When you get that thing back up to the (Community Activities Building, the CCHS gym) where it belongs — I told them (Tuesday) that we were going to pass it around and let everybody get to have a day with it.”
On Tuesday, Caldwell County dispatched Crittenden County in straight sets in the tournament semifinals at Christian County, winning 25-11, 25-9, 25-15.
Earlier in the day, the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association named Caldwell senior outside hitter Olivia Mitchell as the Second Region Payer of the Year and Lady Tiger head coach Daniel Cortner as the Second Region Coach of the Year. The honor is the third for Cortner.
In the first set, Crittenden County (12-11) opened with a 2-1 lead before the Lady Tigers roared back with nine straight points behind the serving of senior middle blocker Abby Griggs to take a 10-2 lead. Caldwell outscored the Lady Rockets 15-8 from that point to win the set.
Caldwell County just cruised through the second set, but Crittenden County put up a harder game in the third set. The Lady Rockets pushed out to a 12-9 lead when Cortner called a timeout and made adjustments. Caldwell County went on a 12-2 run from that point, scoring seven of its points behind Griggs’ solid serving.
Mitchell led the offense with a match-high 39 kills, giving her a total of 409 for the season, while Griggs added nine. Griggs had a match-high five aces and a co-team-high nine digs in the match.
Senior libero Riley Thomas also had nine digs, while senior setter Kendyll Prowell and junior outside hitter Mary Tays each had five. Prowell handed out a match-high 39 assist and had two aces, while Tays and junior defensive specialist Adison Sullenger each had two aces.