LOUISVILLE — One way or another, Friday's opening round of the Girls' State Volleyball Tournament was going to be a Devils' delight.
As it turned out, it was Henry Clay's way. Henry Clay's Blue Devils pitched a 3-0 shutout over Russell's Red Devils 25-9, 25-12, 25-7 at Valley High School.
No. 7 Henry Clay (24-16) will meet No. 25 Greenwood in the quarterfinals, Saturday at 10:30 a.m. A win there would put the Blue Devils into the semifinals at 3 p.m. Finals are set for 8 p.m.
Greenwood rallied to defeat Allen Central 3-2 on Friday — 18-25, 17-25, 28-26, 25-23, 15-8.
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"We did take care of business," Blue Devils Coach Dale Grupe said. "It's a different type of game. I thought our girls hung in there just as far as playing smart. And we blocked them really well, to be honest with you. That was probably the key to that match."
The Blue Devils blocked 10 shots. Russell had none.
Emily McLendon and Ca'Layci Coffey each had a solo block and combined for five block assists. Elle Barnett had five block assists.
Barnett added seven kills, McLendon had six and Coffey five.
"I just go in and do what I can for the team, whatever they need me to," said Coffey, a sophomore.
Coffey came up big down the stretch in the opening game, with a couple of thunderous kills while accounting for four of the final five points.
"Lynsey Short, our setter, she's doing great today," Coffey said. "She's putting the ball exactly where it needs to be to get those."
Short finished with 29 assists, along with five digs.
The Blue Devils never trailed in that game, then opened a 5-2 lead in the second game.
Russell (27-13) scored three straight to tie at 5, but Henry Clay rattled off the next 12 points.
"Kind of like in practice. You have to work so hard for this, we're just ready to go," said Hallie Shelton, an eighth-grader who led the Blue Devils with 10 kills. "And we showed it.
"I thought I played pretty good. It was a team win more than anything. We kind of worked together a lot. I think the team atmosphere helped me get my play going."
In the finale, Henry Clay jumped to a 4-0 lead, then 8-1, 12-2, 18-3, and had clear sailing into the quarterfinals.
Sydney Watkins had nine of Russell's 17 kills. Next was Arden Gross with five kills and five digs.
"Henry Clay's really good. We knew that when we came down," Red Devils Coach Darrell Adkins said. "We knew ... it was going to be a tough draw.
"We've got some seniors who are really good, but we also have one line that's eighth-graders and freshmen that we play a lot. We knew it was good experience for them and we were going to come out and play hard, but it was a rough draw."
When Henry Clay wasn't causing problems with blocks and kills, they were creating service havoc. The Blue Devils totaled 12 aces, led by Elizabeth Combs with three.
"We made a big point to 'serve in' — to not really worry about serving real tough," Grupe said. "But I thought we served tough, actually, and that was a big key to the game, too."
So it's on to the quarterfinals for the Blue Devils, who would love to take their best shot at top-ranked Assumption in the semis.
"I love our chances," Coffey said. "I love our team. ... We know we can do it, so we're going to go hard."