For at least most of the season, Henry Clay’s volleyball team will be without its biggest star as it looks to build on the best campaign ever put together by a public school in state history.
Kaitlyn Hord, a senior who has committed to Penn State, injured her right shoulder during the club season this summer. She didn’t play in the Blue Devils’ season opener at Frederick Douglass.
“To be honest with you, she might be out the rest of the season,” Coach Dale Grupe said of Hord, one of five Blue Devils to be named to the All-City first team last year. She is the daughter of former University of Kentucky men’s basketball player Derrick Hord.
Henry Clay, ranked fourth in this year’s preseason coaches poll, went 37-7 last season and became the second public school to play in the KHSAA State Tournament championship game. It fell to Sacred Heart 3-1, becoming the first public school to win a set in the finals. The Blue Devils lost just one set to a Kentucky public school in 2016.
While some prognoses suggest that Hord could return about two weeks or a month before the season is over, Grupe said he’s moving forward with his team as if she’ll be sidelined the whole way.
“We’re looking into it as if she comes back, great, but if not, we’ve gotta just keep fighting,” Grupe said. “She’s still a big part of our team on the bench and stuff. That’s a big loss, but we still have to play a lot better.”
Manual defeated Henry Clay in the quarterfinals of the Bluegrass State Games’ championship flight last weekend. North Oldham (preseason No. 7) and West Jessamine (preseason No. 23) both defeated the Blue Devils in scrimmages recently. The Blue Devils swept Frederick Douglass 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-19) on Monday but got a tough test from a team with limited varsity experience on its roster.
“They played like we did many years ago when we were hungry, and we’ve gotta get that hunger back,” Grupe said.
Hord’s loss hurts, but the cupboard’s seldom bare at Henry Clay. Seniors Sierra Gray, Myana Carter and sophomore Taylor Trammell were All-City selections last year, and twin freshmen Abby and Emma Shadwick will challenge for playing time.
“We have good talent, we’ve just gotta find that fire and that, I don’t know, ‘it’ factor,” Grupe said. “Cause these kids have it but right now they’re not playing with it. ... We’re still playing different kids. I think we’re a month away from seeing if, ‘Are we gonna do it or not?’
“I know in the first paper thing our players acted like it’s gonna be easy this year. I think they’ve figured out that it ain’t gonna be easy, and that’s fine. That’s what it should be; it should be hard work.”