High School Sports

Catholic having state dreams

On the first day of team camp, Coach Mark McCloskey asked his players how many times they'd won the state volleyball championship.

Not a single Lexington Catholic player said a word.

Then he asked them how many times they'd even been to the state tournament.

"None," one brave player replied.

But those answers hopefully will change soon, the coach and his players say.

"We're in a position where we could not only get to regionals, but we have a chance to win it," McCloskey said. "I don't know that (Catholic's) ever been able to say that before.

"Who knows whether we will or not, but we can at least talk about being in those matches."

The Knights, newly ranked at No. 22 in the state by the coaches, have been surging this season, knocking off five top-25 teams, including a win over No. 9 Greenwood recently.

Counting a 25-17, 25-15 win at Lexington Christian Thursday night, Catholic has won three in a row and five of its last six games.

The team, especially its eight seniors, can feel change in the air.

"He's given pride to the program," said outside hitter Kathryn San defer, who had a match-high seven kills.

That pride started last season when McCloskey took over the program. It advanced to the region semifinals.

The Knights started this season with eight straight wins.

"He's given us pride and tradition," fellow senior Julie Babbage said of McCloskey. "We know this (success) isn't going to end with us. It's just going to get better after us."

In the first game Thursday night, a young LCA team pulled to within three points 17-14 before the Knights closed it out with an 8-3 run behind two kills from senior Tyler Deaton.

Christian was within a point of evening it up in the second game, 14-13, before Catholic used a monster 11-2 run to put the match away.

Sandefer had three kills in the second game.

For the match, senior Maggie Canning had three service aces and three blocks. Catholic was strong as a team, getting at least two kills from six players, including non-starters.

"We get better every time we play," McCloskey said. "We've gotten some matches that we've let slip away, but we've also had some wins over ranked teams."

Those wins have given the Knights some confidence heading into post-season play in a couple of weeks, but the 11th Region is talented with two top-10 teams in No. 5 Henry Clay and No. 8 Paul Dunbar.

Still, Catholic says it could be there at the end, too.

"He's pushed us and turned us into a top-25 program," Babbage said. "We're ready to make something of ourselves and show how good we can be."

Lexington Catholic def. Lexington Christian 25-17, 25-15.

Records—Lexington Catholic 16-7, Lexington Christian 13-10.