Sometimes it takes playing a district rival to get a team out of its funk.
With a four-game losing streak, Russell was ready to get back to business against Lewis County.
Russell used a 14-1 start and a strong net game to defeat 63rd District rival Lewis County in three straight games (25-10, 25-20, 25-12) on Tuesday night at Russell High School.
And while the quick start was big, Russell coach Darrell Adkins was happier his team didn’t let the big lead go to waste.
“We went over to South Point last night (Monday) and won the first set big and then just fell apart,” Adkins said. “So I’m glad we got off to the quick start, I appreciate the quick start, but I’m happier that we kept playing right on through and we didn’t slide back down.”
The Lady Devils got off to a quick run in the first game, overmatching Lewis County at the net and cruising to a win.
The second and third games were more competitive, but in the end Russell’s stellar net play turned the tides in favor of the Lady Devils.
Adkins credited his team for not only making good passes, but setting the ball up for the Lady Devils’ hitters.
“When we play and get them the ball we’re really hard to beat,” Adkins said of his front line. “When our back row passes well and we get the sets and get the ball to our hitters we’re good. And tonight we got the ball to our hitters. That was the difference in the game.”
Leading the way up front for Russell (21-10) were seniors Arden Gross and Sydney Watkins.
Watkins finished the game with 12 kills and three aces, while Gross finished with four kills and two aces while being responsible for nine points off serve.
After losing a lot of firepower from the front line last year, Gross said she and Watkins are doing whatever they can to provide a solid foundation when playing at the net.
“When we have a chance to be up at the net, we’re all about it,” Gross said. “It’s our year to shine and we really stepped it up this year. I love being a senior and love being a leader, and Sydney feels the same way.
“I guess ‘senioritis’ has taken over.”
And while the seniors provided key plays at the net, it was freshman Emma Ison who added another punch for the Lady Devils.
Ison picked up eight kills and two aces and, according to Gross, will be a huge key in the Lady Devils’ run at the end of the season.
“From the beginning of the year to this point now you wouldn’t have known who she was,” Gross said. “She’s been two completely different players. She jumps higher, hits harder and she’s getting ball down and in, and that’s something we needed to add to our team.”
With Watkins and Gross, the seniors have the size to make other teams fear their presence at the net.
But with Ison, who is considerably smaller than the two seniors, she surprises some with her ability and the power she puts into the ball.
“She’s not real big,” Adkins said. “But I think she’s going to be really, really good. I’d like to see her grow six more inches, but that’s probably not going to happen.”
Lewis County (15-8) has shown sparks this season, but has struggled against the district, going 1-5. Its only district win came against Greenup County.
Senior Tori Liles led the Lady Lions with five kills and an ace.
With the win, Russell is on track to be the 63rd District’s No. 1 seed come tournament time. The Lady Devils have two more district games against Greenup County and Raceland.
But even with the No. 1 seed in his team’s sight, Adkins is still wary about what could happen in the next few weeks.
“Our district is so tough I’m not sure how much it helps you to be seeded No. 1 because everybody is competitive,” Adkins said. “There is not really a four seed out there. And if you look at the region’s top five teams, four of them are in this district in my opinion.
“There is no good draw really, but we still want to be that first seed.”
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2658.
Sometimes it takes playing a district rival to get a team out of its funk.
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Boyd’s Fraley commits to Herd
Boyd County sophomore basketball player Logan Fraley has announced her commitment to Marshall University.
The 5-foot-11 shooting guard informed Marshall women’s coach Matt Daniel of her decision on Monday morning, which was confirmed by Boyd County coach/father Pete Fraley via text message.
63rd softball: Greenup leans on bunting, baserunning; Russell wins
Immersed in another district contest with little breathing room, Greenup County softball coach Eric Keeton resorted to the strengths of his lineup: bunting and baserunning.
Two bunts and a swinging bunt helped the Lady Musketeers scratch across three runs in the fifth inning of a 6-2 victory over Raceland in the 63rd District Tournament opening round on Monday night at Russell High School. Top-seeded Russell defeated Lewis County, also 6-2, earlier in the evening.
Boyd pounds out 11 hits to go along with Grimm’s shutout, 14-0
Robbie Shivel might be a little sore after Monday night, but it was Fairview that left the game battered and bruised.
Boyd County belted out 11 hits to go along with Dylan Grimm's complete-game gem as the Lions roared past Fairview, 14-0, in the opening round of the 64th District Tournament at Ashland's Alumni Field. The game lasted five innings.
Different look, same results for Lady Lions
A longtime fixture in the 64th District softball championship game, Boyd County looked different this return trip.
The Lady Lions defeated Fairview 10-5 in Monday’s district semifinal, which doubled as an Autism Awareness Night. Boyd County players wore light blue shirts and colorful, jigsaw puzzle socks for the event, which had to be rescheduled more than once due to weather problems.
Musketeers explode in final 2 innings to beat Raceland; good times continue for Lewis
Through the first four innings of its 63rd District Tournament opener, Greenup County found itself hitless. The Musketeers made up for it over the next two innings.
Greenup County scored eight runs on eight hits in the final two innings to defeat Raceland, 9-1, at Russell High School on Monday.
The will to win
Opponents get the same look from Emily Stewart whether it’s softball, basketball or soccer season.
Steely eyed and lips pursed, the Boyd County senior is keenly focused and all business between the lines.
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It takes only one game. Few are more firm believers in that fact than the small schools that find themselves in underdog roles year after year.
Locals struggle to make impact
Some days you are the windshield and some days you are the bug.
It is a saying that proved to be all too true for Rowan County on Friday night at the KHSAA Class 2A State Track and Field Championships at the University of Louisville’s Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park.
Womack eliminated in state semis; Rose Hill, Russell doubles also ousted
Fairview senior Kennedy Womack wasn’t her consistent self in Saturday morning’s state tennis semifinals at the University of Kentucky’s Hilary Boone Tennis Complex.
As a result, the top seed fell to Lexington Sayre sophomore Madeline Rolph 6-1, 6-0.
Womack was obviously disappointed with her finish, especially after losing in last year’s state finals, but she was happy for her good friend Rolph.
If Fairview could have fielded a combined track and field team at Saturday’s Class A State Track and Field Championships, the Eagles and Lady Eagles would have had a record day. Instead, the Fairview girls had to “settle” for fifth, while the boys’ claimed 10th.
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