Heading into the 42nd District Tournament, the top two seeds appeared locked on a collision course to a rematch, and Tuesday's volleyball semifinals at Bryan Station did nothing to alter that path. Scott County and Henry Clay both dominated their matches to reach the finals.
Scott County, which lost to Henry Clay in straight sets in September, seems to be rounding into fine post-season form. Against Bryan Station, the Cardinals used big runs in the final two sets to knock off the Defenders 25-11, 25-9 and 25-10.
After Bryan Station closed to within 11-7 in the second set, Scott County reeled off a 14-2 run to take the set. Senior Alleah Stamatis was dominant all night. In the middle of the second set, she rose up for a vicious kill to swell the lead to 19-8, then hit Georgia Miller with a perfect set for one of her game-high 20 assists. Stamatis and Miller were in lockstep on the front line all game long. Miller finished with 12 kills and four digs.
Stamatis said she and Miller have a special rapport on the court.
"We've been playing together since sixth grade," she said. "So we just have that bond."
Stamatis was clearly comfortable in a leadership role, congratulating teammates for great plays and directing the game plan all match long.
"I feel like that's my role as a senior, to do my job and to keep everyone motivated," she said.
Scott County head coach Kim Thompson said Stamatis has been one of the catalysts for the Lady Cards all year long.
"She's one of those game-changers, she's so competitive. She's gonna pick up balls that you think there's no way she's gonna get to them. It changes the momentum for us," said the coach.
Scott County will need more of that game-changing swagger from Stamatis on Wednesday in the district finals against Henry Clay.
The Blue Devils entered the tournament as the heavy favorite after finishing the regular season 31-4, losing to only one in-state team all year. Tuesday in the semifinals against Sayre, the Devils looked on a mission, knocking off the Spartans in straight sets in less than 50 minutes by scores of 25-7, 25-6 and 25-6.
Junior Darby Music served six aces for Henry Clay, which managed 37 kills as a team against just four errors. Junior Emma Yarber was in a giving mood all match long, dishing out 26 assists.
Blue Devils head coach Dale Grupe said his team is eager to prove that it's among the elite squads in the state.
"They're pretty motivated. We really want our chances against the Mercys and Sacred Hearts," he said after the match.
Sacred Heart was the one Kentucky team to beat the Blue Devils this year. Henry Clay fell to the Valkyries three games to one in its second match of the season before winning 23 of its next 25. Grupe said the Blue Devils are more than capable of matching up against Sacred Heart or any other top-ranked squad come state tournament time.
"We feel like we can get them on any given day," he said.
But Henry Clay has a different rematch to worry about Wednesday. Though the Blue Devils handled Scott County fairly easily in their first match, the Cardinals will have an extra weapon this time around. Aubrey Harkins has recently come back from an injury that kept her out of the first matchup. She had eight kills and eight digs Tuesday, and her presence should improve Scott County's chances of evening the season series.
"We got Aubrey back ... so that gives us a big boost up front. So I'm hoping it's a more competitive game. I'd like to take a set or two from them, but I'd like to get the win too," said Coach Thompson.
The district championship game is set to get underway at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at Bryan Station.