Caldwell County lost at home in straight sets to Henderson County on Oct. 6, but the Lady Tigers won when it counted most, winning their first-round match of the Second Region Tournament on Monday — at home in straight sets — 25-12, 25-22, 25-19.
The first-round matches of the tournament were played at the district champions’ home sites.
Caldwell County (16-5), the District 7 regular-season and tournament champion, advanced to play District 5 champion Crittenden County (12-10) Tuesday in the regional semifinal, played at Christian County. The Lady Rockets beat Christian County in Marion 25-20, 25-15, 25-21.
Against Henderson County, Caldwell County won a sideout on the opening serve and racked up the first six points of the match behind serving from junior outside hitter Mary Tays, who had a team-high four aces in the match.
The Lady Tigers pushed out to a 17-4 lead in the first set before Henderson County (8-11) scored four straight points. Caldwell County scored eight of the last 12 points to win the first set.
In the second set, senior setter Kendyll Prowell served the Lady Tigers to a 14-6 lead, but the Lady Colonels kept their composure and kept the score close, winning the next five points and getting as close as a 23-22 deficit behind junior Jordan Troutman, but Caldwell County was able to close out the set.
Caldwell County pushed out to a 5-0 lead in the third set and won nine of 10 points in the middle of the set behind solid serving from Tays and junior Adison Sullenger. Henderson County was able to close the gap to 23-19, but could get no closer.
Senior outside hitter Olivia Mitchell led the Lady Tiger offense with 22 kills, while senior middle blocker Abby Griggs added 12 to go with a team-high two blocks. Prowell handed out 36 assists.
On defense, senior libero Riley Thomas repelled a team-high 23 digs, while Tays had nine and Mitchell and Sullenger had five apiece.
“I don’t know of anything our girls got left,” said CCHS head coach Daniel Cortner. “If it was going four, I don’t know what tricks we had left.
“Everything we did tonight worked like we wanted it to. Our middles tipped to the floor, scored probably 15, 20 times, and they just kept getting riskier and riskier and riskier with it, and they just executed on every single one of them.”
Henderson County had not played since Oct. 10 due to COVID-19 regulations, taking a forfeit loss to Webster County in the District 6 championship match.
“They are such a team built on momentum,” Cortner said. “They love energy; they love owning that side of the game. We knew that if we ever let Henderson get their head above water, we were going to be in trouble.
“Our young ladies stepped up and played with every bit of emotion, every bit of heart you could have.”
District 7 runner-up Madisonville-North Hopkins (16-5) played Webster County (10-5) in the other semifinal match-up on Tuesday. at Christian County.
The championship match will be played at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Christian County High School.