Lafayette volleyball coach Chris Langston thought his Generals had their confidence shaken a bit when they were overmatched in a tournament in Murfreesboro, Tenn., over the weekend.
But Lafayette, rated No. 14 in the state, bolstered its self-esteem by knocking off No. 9 Henry Clay on Tuesday night. The Generals prevailed in a tough four-set match, 25-21, 25-21, 19-25, 25-21.
It was Lafayette's second victory over its city rivals this season after going winless against the Blue Devils the previous six years.
"I think this shows we can pull through in big games," Lafayette senior Sarah Jenkins said. "We've had some tough losses to (No. 7) Dunbar and (No. 17) Tates Creek lately, but beating Henry Clay again gives us our confidence back."
Jenkins was the catalyst for the Generals. She accounted for 30 points on kills and a killer serve.
Henry Clay Coach Dale Grupe, whose team went 0-5 in a high-level tournament in Chicago last weekend, said his Devils "again didn't have an answer" to Jenkins.
Langston said it was the best serving night Jenkins has had in her career.
"She kind of found that Saturday afternoon in Tennessee. The whole team kind of grew up getting away from here, so it was a good experience for us."
Lafayette jumped ahead of Henry Clay 17-6 in the first game, only to see the Devils rally to cut the deficit to 18-17. But the Generals regained control and pulled away.
Lafayette was the comeback team in the second game, storming back from a 14-10 deficit to win.
Henry Clay, led by seniors Emily McLendon, junior Elle Barnett and sophomore Ca'Layci Coffey, stayed alive by winning the third game.
Langston said his Generals might have relaxed a little. "When you're up 2-0 against a really good team, you can't exhale; you can't take a break," he said.
Lafayette got back to business after that. Chandler Kinley, Annie King, Kenzie Clements and Jackie Britt all came through with big plays in another close game to take the match.
"Another thing we learned this weekend was that other people besides Sarah can do it for us," Langston said. "They showed that tonight."
Lafayette closes the regular season at home against Highlands on Thursday.
The Generals (23-7) host the 43rd District tournament next week. They will face Tates Creek in the semifinals. If they win they'll probably see Dunbar again.
Henry Clay, whose next victory will be the 500th in the program's history, finishes the regular season at home against No. 3 St. Henry on Thursday night.
The Devils are assured of a spot in the region since they are the top seed in the three-team 42nd District.
They'll play the winner of Bryan Station-Scott County in the district finals, with the winner and runner-up advancing to the 11th Region tournament.
Henry Clay's 19-15 record reflects a difficult schedule. Ten of its losses have been to out-of-state teams. Grupe said the top-notch competition has prepared his Devils for what's important.
"Sure, we want to come out and win, especially these city matches, but we know our end run is the region, and trying to make a run at the state," he said.
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com