The Cougar volleyball team, in the midst of a seven-game losing streak, has learned that life in the 12th District will be a harsh one, now and in the foreseeable future, after suffering through a 3-0 whitewash to district rival Edmonson County Thursday evening at the Cougar Den.
After leading for most of the first set, the Cougars gave up the lead late in the set and lost 25-21. That seemed to set the stage for the final two sets, both of which went to the visitors by big scores, 25-11, 25-12.
The Cougars have been struggling to find an identity after losing their top hitter, and arguably their leader, when junior outside hitter, Emma Wilder, was lost for the rest of the season after tearing an ACL.
After dropping the first two sets, first-year head coach Rebecca Meredith used mostly JV players in the final set, perhaps looking to the future and wanting to get her younger players some valuable varsity experience.
The Wildcats, who are a junior-driven team with only one senior on the roster, moved to 18-9 on the season with the win over the Cougars, second only to Meade County’s 19-6 record in the 3rd Region.
Grayson County raced out to a 7-1 lead and were really excited when they forced the Wildcats to call an early timeout. But the Wildcats came back on the floor and immediately climbed back into the game behind the outstanding hitting of junior Mikayla Lindsey, and the solid, all-around play of Caitlin Simon.
After the Wildcats closed to within a point of the lead at 8-7, the Cougars began dominating play again and went back up by five points, 14-9.
Still trailing 20-19, Simon had a kill that brought the Wildcats into a tie at 20-20. Still tied at 21-21, Lindsey had two straight kills and Simon another to bring it to set point, 24-21. One more Wildcat kill gave the set to the visitors.
With the score tied 2-2 in the second set, the Wildcats put together a 7-0 run that put control into their hands. The Cougars had three hitting errors during the run, while Lindsey had three kills, and Simon served an ace.
Reaching set-point at 24-11, Lindsey put away another kill to give her team a two-set-to-none lead.
Grayson County took an early 2-1 lead in the third set, but that would turn out to be their only lead of the night. Simon took the serve with Edmonson on top 8-6 and had three aces and a kill as the Wildcats went up 13-6.
The Wildcats had their first match-point at 24-12, but a service error gave the ball back to the Cougars. Lindsey then added one last kill to hand the match to the Wildcats.
In JV action, the Cougars won in straight sets. After taking a close first set 21-18, the Cougars roared out to a 7-0 lead in the second. But the Wildcats were not done as they closed back to within a point at 10-9.
Grayson County then reasserted itself, building the lead back up to six points at 16-10. Leading 17-12, junior Mackenzie Coates served a pair of aces to bring it to 19-12, and a hitting error by the Wildcats took it to match-point.
An Edmonson kill gave them the serve, but when Megan Dockery sent her serve long, the Cougars celebrated their win.
Reach Don Brown at 259-9622, ext. 2016.