The perfect anthem for Henry Clay's volleyball team Thursday night would have been Alicia Keys' Girl on Fire.
Henry Clay's gym felt like a sauna, the competition was hot and heavy, and the No. 3 Blue Devils said their fiery attitude carried them to a 25-21, 25-20, 23-25, 25-21 win over No. 10 Tates Creek.
It was Henry Clay's 18th consecutive victory over the Commodores since 2005.
"Oh my gosh, it was burning up in here," Henry Clay senior setter Lynsey Short said. "But it came from our team, with our fire."
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Hallie Shelton, a sophomore outside hitter, agreed.
"Everyone was sweating and hot, but we kept on going because we had that fire, that adrenaline, the whole night," she said.
It was an odd setting for a showdown between top-10 teams. Henry Clay's gym has no bleachers — the old ones were torn out and the new ones haven't arrived yet — so fans had to sit in folding chairs. Some brought in lawn chairs.
Shelton noted that the cheers echoed more in the spartan gym. "The crowd was great. I loved the huge atmosphere. It really pushed us to fight for the win."
Henry Clay Coach Dale Grupe joked afterward that he didn't "know what they're trying to do to us. No bleachers and no air (conditioning)."
But Henry Clay had no problem ratcheting up its game against a Tates Creek team that brought a 20-2 record into the match.
Every game was close, but the Devils made the big plays when they needed them.
Shelton was sensational, registering 21 kills, almost as many as Tates Creek star Kendall Beerman, who had 25.
Henry Clay freshman Sierra Gray had 11 kills. Senior Ca'Layci Coffey, sophomores Jessica Sunnenberg and Emma Yarber also came up with key plays at the net.
Sophomore libero Darby Music was all over the court, and Short was sharp with her passing.
What did Grupe like best?
"Our competitiveness," he said. "We just kept fighting regardless of what was happening. Even if we got in bad spurts, we just kept going to the next point."
Tates Creek gave a good account of itself, forcing the Devils to the finish line in each game. Beerman, Doris Carter and Julia Loveday were active up front. Setter Macy Reihing did her job, too.
"Give props to Henry Clay," Tates Creek Coach Sara Chaffin said. "They put together a solid offense, and we had a hard time putting a block on them tonight."
As four-time defending 11th Region champion, Henry Clay has nothing to prove. But the Devils wanted to make amends for getting swept by No. 7 Paul Laurence Dunbar two weeks ago.
"It wasn't super important for us to win tonight because we always have confidence in ourselves," Short said. "But I think it was important within the city, to show everybody else what we can do."
The Devils (21-4) are off to Chicago next week for their third high-profile out-of-state tournament this season.
"This was a good match to get us ready for Chicago," Grupe said. "We know we have to keep getting better."