DANVILLE — Despite a massive push back in the second set, the East Knox Bulldogs picked up the three-set rivalry win on the road Thursday, beating the Danville Blue Devils.
“I think that my team worked really hard tonight to play in our rivalry game and we wanted it really bad and it showed,” East Knox junior outside hitter Hallie Rine said. “Once the whistle blows, we’re playing volleyball. We’re here to win and that’s what we did.”
The Bulldogs came to play off that first whistle, rushing out to an 8-1 lead, with a tip by Kiley Totten setting the seven point advantage. Soon, a kill by Cheyenne Frost put the visitors ahead by 10 (14-4). A Meggan Bartok kill nudged the lead to 13 (17-4), before Danville carved in to the lead. A kill by CeCe Newbold, followed by a Ally Bower kill cut the lead to 17-9, but the Bulldogs charged on. A block by Totten and Sydney Buckingham put East Knox ahead 24-11 and a Danville error ended the set at 25-11.
Returning to the floor, the Blue Devils began racking up the points, bringing the score to 14-11. A kill by Rine pushed East Knox ahead 18-11, but Danville climbed back in. A Newbold kill cut the lead to 19-17, but points from Rine, Bartok and Frost put the Bulldog advantage to 22-17.
“The girls played well on both sides,” East Knox coach Allie Henthorn said. “Danville gave us a good fight that second set and our girls made some mistakes that they shouldn’t have, but they were working on a different offense trying to get things ready for tournaments.”
Some of those errors, as well as solid play by the Blue Devils, caught up to the Bulldogs. Sammie Lavender had two kills in three points to bring Danville to within one (24-23), but East Knox scored the final point to squeak out the second set, 25-23.
“We came out with intensity and the team was playing together,” Dawson said of the second set. “We’ve preached all season that if you pick each other up and play with intensity, you play 10 times better.”
What momentum Danville built in the second set was not transferred into the third set. The team fell behind early and Dawson called a timeout after only three points.
“When you start out a set with three errors right off the get go, you’ve got to break that somehow, so calling a timeout and giving them a break and giving them a little time to regroup,” Dawson said.
Following the break, East Knox continued pouring on. Two kills from Rine, followed by a tip from Totten put the Bulldogs ahead 10-1. A kill by Brittany Holt brought the Blue Devils back to within six (10-4) and an error by East Knox cut the lead to five, but that was as close as Danville got. An ace by Rine pushed the lead to double-digits (17-7) and the team was off to the races from there, solidifying the win, 25-9.
“That first set and the third set, I was just really impressed with how much heart and hustle my girls had,” Henthorn said. “They put everything out there. When you play Danville, that’s all you want. You just want to crush them. It’s that rivalry and it’s that passion.”
Stats were unavailable to the News for both teams by press deadline.
East Knox heads into the postseason with an 11-11 record, going 6-8 in the KMAC. They return to action for the sectional tournament Tuesday on the road against North Union.
“Our girls were seeded 15th and their playing a No. 9 seed, which makes it a very doable game and a very winnable game,” Henthorn said. “Our girls are excited. We are ready to run this offense and continue to play defense the best we can.”
Danville returns to action Thursday in its sectional tournament, hitting the road to take on Shekinah Christian.
“That’s what we just talked about in the locker room was, if they play with intensity and they play as a team, they’re a whole different team,” Dawson said. “Looking at going in to tournaments next Thursday, I told them from the get-go, we need three sets with that same attitude.”