HIGHLANDS HEIGHTS — There wasn't just one thing Paul Laurence Dunbar did well Friday, it was a bunch of little things.
And the little things added up to a big win for the ninth-ranked Bulldogs in the first round of the state volleyball tournament at Northern Kentucky University.
"There was nothing specific or special we did," junior middle hitter Rachel Lowry said. "We just used our teamwork and showed how well we can play when we work together."
The Bulldogs' team effort topped Letcher County Central easily 25-10, 25-11 behind nine kills from Madison Hatcher and six kills apiece for Lauren Travis and Lowry, who also had two service aces.
Never miss a local story.
"For us, it has started with serve reception and serving all season," Jenni Morgan said. "It didn't really matter what the other team was doing. If they got a kill or we made an error, it was easy for us to get the ball back."
Even though the Cougars came into the match with just two losses, the lack of competition in the Eastern Kentucky area showed, Coach Dickie Adams said.
"We don't play the caliber of competition they do every night," he said. "For us to play that talent, I'd have to have a million dollars and a team jet instead of a bus."
The Bulldogs forced Letcher County Central into 11 kill errors to just 10 kills. Lisa Frazier and Erica Meade led the Cougars with four kills apiece.
"I don't like to lose," Adams said. "But sometimes you're not the best team. I thought my girls played hard ... they gave a good account of themselves. We're trying to keep raising our level of play."
There was only one tie in the match and no lead changes. Ninth-ranked Dunbar was all business heading into the quarterfinals to face No. 3 Notre Dame.
"It's going to be a challenge, but that's what this is about," Morgan said. "If we're going to make it to the finals and make it to that next step, you've gotta come out and play the best."
Christin Haney, who had a game-high 10 assists for Dunbar, said the team is prepared to take on one of the state's top three teams.
"From the beginning of the season, we've become so much better than what we started out with," Haney said. "We get better every game, every practice. We're ready."
■ Notre Dame, Dunbar's next opponent, won its seventh straight with a quick 25-5, 25-16 win over Green County. The Pandas had a balanced attack with four players putting up four kills or more.
■ Marshall County's Jessie Harrison had eight kills and a block to lead the Marshals over South Laurel in straight sets. The Cardinals were led by Erika Burchett's six kills.
At Northern Kentucky's Regents Hall
Mercy def. Ashland Blazer 25-3, 25-6.
Records—Mercy 29-6, Ashland Blazer 21-15.
Marshall County def. South Laurel 25-11, 25-21.
Records—Marshall County 23-12, South Laurel 36-5.
Notre Dame def. Green County 25-5, 25-16.
Records—Notre Dame 31-8, Green County 28-12.
Paul Dunbar def. Letcher Co. Central 25-10, 25-11.
Records—Paul Dunbar 35-9, Letcher County Central 34-3.
Newport Catholic def. Apollo 33-31, 25-22.
Records—Newport Catholic 20-9, Apollo 31-11.
Oldham County def. Caldwell County 26-24, 25-15.
Records—Caldwell County 33-4, Oldham County 24-6.
Southwestern def. Allen Central 25-23, 18-25, 25-12.
Records—Southwestern 35-5, Allen Central 30-10.
Sacred Heart def. Greenwood 25-7, 25-12
Records—Sacred Heart 28-11, Greenwood 36-10.