High School Sports

High school volleyball: Lafayette riding high after big wins

Sarah Jenkins, left, a 6-foot-3 Lafayette senior, blocked Emma Iler of Lexington Catholic as the Generals swept the Knights 3-0 at Lexington Catholic. Jenkins moved to the middle this year to give her team a force at the net.
Sarah Jenkins, left, a 6-foot-3 Lafayette senior, blocked Emma Iler of Lexington Catholic as the Generals swept the Knights 3-0 at Lexington Catholic. Jenkins moved to the middle this year to give her team a force at the net. Herald-Leader

If Lafayette's volleyball players were jumping a little higher, digging a little deeper and hitting a little harder against Lexington Catholic on Wednesday night, there was good reason.

The Generals, No. 19 in the state, were brimming with confidence after knocking off No. 11 Ryle and No. 5 Henry Clay in the previous 10 days.

The victory over city rival Henry Clay was especially sweet since Lafayette had lost 10 in a row to the Blue Devils since 2006.

After the Generals swept host Lexington Catholic 25-13, 25-10, 25-15, they admitted upsetting Henry Clay had given them a boost.

"It was awesome," Lafayette's Sarah Jenkins said. "It's motivated us to push harder in practice because now we know we can really do something this year. We have a chance to get to state."

Jenkins, a 6-foot-3 senior, moved to the middle this season to give the Generals a force at the net as a hitter and blocker. She showed both skills against Lexington Catholic as she dominated the match at times.

Annie King, a senior setter, couldn't contain her smile when asked if she likes getting the ball to Jenkins.

"It's really fun. I can't lie," King said. "I love setting her."

Lafayette was expected to be a top-20 team this year with the experience it had. Besides Jenkins and King, Coach Chris Langston's veterans include seniors Abbie Bowling, Jackie Britt, Cassidy Speer and Tiffany Jones, and junior Chandler Kinley.

Bowling and Jones are strong servers. Kinley and Speer are defensive specialists. Britt, who's playing through some back pain, is an outside hitter.

Langston, like his players, thinks the victories over Ryle and Henry Clay have had a positive effect on this team.

"Playing Ryle and winning a five-setter gave us some confidence going into the Henry Clay match," he said.

"Against Henry Clay, the girls really lifted their game. Now they can see what they can do on the court, so it was very special to get that win."

Not that the Generals will let the accomplishment slow their drive to improve. They haven't been to the state tournament in six years, and they lost to Henry Clay in last year's region finals.

"We've still gotta practice harder because everybody else is going to get better, too," King said. "Henry Clay is going to get better, so we'll have to bring our game twice as hard next time."

Lexington Catholic, meanwhile, knew it faced a challenge in Lafayette. But Coach Mark McCloskey saw encouraging things from his relatively inexperienced Knights.

"I thought we competed hard and our ball control was much better than it has been," he said. "Cody Michaels, Catherine Young and Olivia Bodart all passed better."

Olivia Carter and Abby James showed aggressiveness at the net, with Emma Iler setting them up.

"I think the match was closer than the score would indicate," McCloskey said. "We've just got to get better at finishing plays."

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