High school volleyball: Tates Creek 3, LCA 1

mfields@herald-leader.comSeptember 27, 2012 

After Tates Creek was swept by Paul Laurence Dunbar in volleyball three weeks ago, Commodores Coach Sara Chaffin challenged her team to get its mind right and its game in gear.

They got the message.

Since that uninspired loss, Tates Creek has won 11 of 12 matches, including a 25-15, 23-25, 25-11, 25-20 victory over host Lexington Christian Academy on Thursday night.

In the last few weeks, the Commodores, No. 17 in the state, have beaten No. 6 Ryle, No. 14 Lafayette No. 15 Simon Kenton, No. 20 North Oldham and No. 25 Oldham County.

Why the hot streak?

"We've gotten our mindsets better," senior setter Danielle Merryman said. "We've prepared better and we've come out ready to play."

Chaffin is happy to see the improvement in the Commodores' mental approach.

"We have great skills; the talent is there," she said. "But we've had to learn to play as a team, and learn not to get discouraged."

She saw that attitude on display last weekend when Tates Creek won a tournament at Highlands.

"Three teams had us at game point, and we came back to beat them all," Chaffin said. "That was a huge thing for us. We did not get down on ourselves."

It also helps to have a finisher like sophomore star Kendall Beerman, who was devastatingly efficient at the net against LCA. She had 30 kills in the match.

"This was definitely one of my better games," said Beerman, who has already commited to Indiana University. "I'd been struggling recently, but I've got it back now."

Chaffin said "it's nice to have a go-to player" like Beerman, but she noted that Haley Summers and Bailey Skaggs have been delivering in the clutch too.

The key, Chaffin said, is for her players to communicate.

"Sometimes we stop talking on the court, and that's when we have a breakdown. We tell them they have to trust their teammates, and talk to their teammates."

LCA showed flashes of solid play against Tates Creek, especially in winning the second game. Alli Evans, Emily Terry and Jade Evanoff led the way at the net.

But the Eagles couldn't sustain their momentum.

"I did see a lot of good things tonight," LCA Coach Teresa Ford said. "We got some good digs, a few good blocks and some good hits in key spots."

But the Eagles had no answer for Beerman, whose rocket shots were too hot to handle.

With post-season play fast approaching, Beerman likes what she sees in her team.

"Our confidence level has definitely been a roller coaster," she said. "But I think we're headed in a good direction now."

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com

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