Without its head coach and one of its best players, Henry Clay was still able to extend its win streak to 20 straight matches over fellow city volleyball power Tates Creek.
Henry Clay won in four sets (25-20, 20-25, 25-21, 25-21) in what was just its third home match of the season. The No. 4 Blue Devils (21-3) have spent much of their season playing in out-of-state tournaments, like the Asics Challenge in which they’ll compete this weekend in Chicago.
The home crowd brought it Tuesday night, as did Creek fans in the building.
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“We knew that Tates Creek was going to bring a huge crowd because they always do, so we wanted to bring an even bigger crowd,” said Henry Clay senior Hallie Shelton, a Western Kentucky commit. “I think it was really fun just to watch that atmosphere and it always helps us build our energy up in the game.”
Henry Clay administrators had to pull out some extra bleachers to accommodate the crowd.
“I saw that before the game and was kind of surprised, but it’s good,” Shelton said with a laugh.
Henry Clay used three separate 4-0 runs in the first set to pull ahead 18-8 before finishing the No. 4 Commodores in that one. Tates Creek used a 6-0 run to go ahead 15-9 in the second set and held on for the five-point win, capped by a vicious kill by Doris Carter that penetrated two Henry Clay blockers.
A back-and-forth third set went Henry Clay’s way after it used a 6-1 run to go up 24-20, three times capitalizing on Creek miscues in that stretch. A 5-0 run capped by a Sierra Gray ace gave the Blue Devils a 19-13 lead in set four and breathing room to put Tates Creek away.
The Blue Devils, who lost in a sweep at Assumption on Monday night, hope to have Katelyn Hord, a junior who’s committed to Penn State, back for their weekend trip. She’s been battling a sinus infection and back pains, and did not play on Tuesday night. Henry Clay Coach Dale Grupe also missed the game because he was with his wife in the hospital.
“The people on the bench step up no matter what, and that’s one of the great things about these girls,” said Luke Grupe, who was coaching in his father’s absence. “ ... They play with emotion. They play for the love of the sport.”
Tates Creek (21-4) hosts No. 13 Cooper and No. 20 Louisville Holy Cross on Saturday.