Henry Clay swept visiting Paul Laurence Dunbar 3-0 on Tuesday and solidified itself as the early favorite to take the city volleyball crown.
The Blue Devils were most impressive in the third game. Down 13-2 and then 16-5, the Blue Devils roared back for a 26-24 game and match win.
"I was very excited for them," Henry Clay Coach Dale Grupe said. "You don't see those kind of comebacks very often."
Hallie Shelton, a sophomore who's started since she was in eighth grade, was a force all night for Henry Clay. She finished with 17 kills, including the final two points of the match.
Shelton likened the end to a game the Blue Devils play in practice.
"We call it HashtagComeback because we have this little game in practice called Atonement and we come back on each other all the time," Shelton said. "I said (to her teammates) 'That's what it's about.'"
The powerful Shelton — several of her kills produced a loud thud — said she derives her energy from her teammates. She said they brought good communication all night, a point evidenced by her raspy speech after the game.
"My voice is definitely gonna be gone tomorrow," Shelton said with a laugh.
Kaitlyn Hord, daughter of former UK basketball player Derrick Hord, had 11 kills for the Blue Devils. Many came on blocks as the 6-foot-3 freshman patrolled the net most of the night.
"I just kind of close my eyes and my frame takes over," Hord said with a laugh. "I forget what happens after a match cause I just have so much fun."
The Blue Devils were thrilled with the sweep of Dunbar (4-2), which ousted them in the 11th Region tournament last season.
"It's definitely one of our best, most well-rounded teams," Grupe said of his group. "I think we've got a little bit of everything. We've got attackers all over the place. Not just front row but back row. And we utilize them quite well."
Henry Clay (7-1) jumped out to a 9-4 lead in game one. It finished off the Bulldogs 25-15 behind five kills from junior Emma Yarber, one of which was an ace. She finished with eight kills.
The Blue Devils fell behind 1-0 to open the second game but wore down Dunbar to earn a convincing 25-11 final in that frame. Six of Shelton's kills came in that one and sophomore Myanna Carter served up three aces for the Blue Devils.
Dunbar was on a mission to open game three, jumping out to a 5-0 lead before taking a 16-5 edge. Shelton closed things out for Henry Clay after it stormed back to knot things up at 21-21.
Leah Edmond, a Dunbar senior committed to UK, had 13 kills in the match with five coming in the last game.
It was Autism Awareness Night at the game. Grupe said $400 to $500 was raised for the Autism Society of the Bluegrass, which presented players from both teams with flowers in a pregame ceremony.