LOUISVILLE — The Henry Clay volleyball team had its eyes on a potential state tournament semifinal matchup with Notre Dame from the moment the bracket came out, and Saturday night the Blue Devils got the matchup they wanted.
And while the Blue Devils made the third-ranked Pandas work, they couldn't quite close the deal as Notre Dame took the final three sets to advance to Sunday's 2 p.m. state championship match.
Awaiting the Pandas will be defending state champ Assumption, who outlasted top-ranked Mercy in a five-set thriller in the first semifinal.
Henry Clay took the opening set and was right there in the second and third sets, but couldn't quite get the crucial points it needed to close things out.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
The Blue Devils came out and showed they meant business from the outset. The action went back-and-forth until Henry Clay finished by scoring the set's final five points, closing it out at 25-23 on a kill by Olivia Dixon.
That seemed to light a temporary fire in Notre Dame, as it jumped out to a 19-7 lead in the second set. But Henry Clay again showed its moxie, fighting back to within 21-18 on an ace by Kylie Colvin.
But Notre Dame tightened its belt and closed out the set at 25-19 on a Morgan Hentz kill.
That momentum carried into the first part of the third set as the Pandas established control at 13-6. Henry Clay had yet another rally in them, though, cutting the deficit to 21-19. But the Pandas once again closed strong, scoring the final four points of the set. Heidi Thelen sent a rocket over the right side of the net that Henry Clay couldn't handle, ending the set by the same 25-19 score as the second.
Notre Dame jumped out early again in the fourth set at 11-3, and this time the Devils didn't have a comeback in them. The Pandas clinched at 25-6 on a Madison Salkowski kill.
Henry Clay needed a little wake-up call in its state tournament quarterfinal match against Logan County on Saturday afternoon, but once the Blue Devils shook off the cobwebs it was smooth sailing into the semifinals.
After dropping the first set, Henry Clay swept the final three to advance to the semifinals.
Logan County took it to the Blue Devils in the first set, jumping out to leads of 11-7 and 18-12. Henry Clay rallied to tie it at 25 on a Ca'Layci Coffey kill, but two consecutive Blue Devils attack errors allowed the Cougars to close out the set.
Henry Clay found its groove in the second set, cruising 25-7. The Devils rode that momentum to 25-18 wins in both the second and third sets.
Hallie Shelton led the Blue Devils (32-9) with 14 kills, while Coffey added 12.
At Valley High School
Assumption 3, McCracken Co. 0
Mercy 3, Oldham Co. 0
Henry Clay 3, Logan Co. 1
Notre Dame 3, Green Co. 0
Assumption 3, Mercy 2
Notre Dame 3, Henry Clay 1
Assumption vs. Notre Dame, 2 p.m.