High School Sports

Unsung standouts power Dunbar in state volleyball opener

Dunbar's Leah Edmond, Olivia Canales, left, and Mary Martin celebrate the set win against Tates Creek during the championship game of the 11th region volleyball tournament in the Al Prewitt Gym at Henry Clay in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, October 27, 2014. Dunbar won the regional title 3-1. Photo by Matt Goins
Dunbar's Leah Edmond, Olivia Canales, left, and Mary Martin celebrate the set win against Tates Creek during the championship game of the 11th region volleyball tournament in the Al Prewitt Gym at Henry Clay in Lexington, Ky., Wednesday, October 27, 2014. Dunbar won the regional title 3-1. Photo by Matt Goins Herald-Leader

LOUISVILLE — Olivia Canales and Leah Edmond usually dominate the net and the headlines for Paul Laurence Dunbar's volleyball team.

The dynamic duo combined for 22 kills in Dunbar's 25-23, 25-21, 25-12 sweep of Green County in the first round of the KHSAA State Tournament on Friday afternoon at Valley High School.

But Mary Martin and Francesca Macchiavello were the unsung standouts in the victory, which moved the No. 7 Bulldogs into Saturday's quarterfinals against No. 18 Owensboro Catholic.

Martin, a senior setter, had 29 assists and three digs, while Macchiavello, a sophomore libero, had 14 digs and four aces, including the winning point in a down-to-the wire opening set.

"Your liberos and setters are the ones who kind of get overlooked," Dunbar Coach Jenni Morgan said.

It was difficult not to notice Macchiavello and Martin as they helped push the Bulldogs past a veteran Green County team that was in the state tournament last year.

Martin did what she's done all year, setting up Dunbar's two Division I prospects, Canales, a senior outside hitter who's committed to Texas Christian, and Edmond, a junior middle hitter who's committed to Kentucky.

Macchiavello, in her first year as a starter, defended all over the court and delivered a clutch serve when the Bulldogs needed it most.

Green County led the first set 23-22, but Dunbar tied it on an error. With Macchiavello serving, the Bulldogs took the last two points.

Macchiavello's last serve found the back right corner to win the set. "I was just looking to put it in the court, but I was more than happy with the ace," she said.

Morgan is more than happy with how Macchiavello has developed into a consistent contributor.

"Fran has been great this season, and not just on the court," Morgan said. "She's in a grueling academic program and has a lot of demands. I've been very impressed with the maturity she's shown."

Once Dunbar escaped the first set, it played steadily better the rest of the match to get the sweep.

Edmond (13 kills, seven digs) and Canales (nine kills) led the attack. Rachel Brown and Asia Henderson had 13 kills between them.

Morgan noted that this was the first state tournament for all of her players, so they had some early nerves.

"I thought we improved each set once we got rid of those first-set jitters," she said. "I wanted them to take chances and be aggressive, and that's what they did."

Macchiavello said they were just doing what their coach told them to do.

"We have a tendency to not play as strong after the first game, but Jenni told us, 'You're coming out strong in the second game and you're not letting up.'"

Do the Bulldogs always follow their coach's instructions to the letter?

"I like to think so," Morgan said with a smile. "They're a very disciplined team, and they do listen. I respect them as players, and they show me the same respect as a coach. That's what you hope for."

Owensboro Catholic beat Allen Central 25-20, 18-25, 25-17, 25-8 to earn its quarterfinal date with Dunbar.

Results

At Valley High School in Louisville

Results in order of bracket:

McCracken County 3, Letcher County Central 0 (25-7, 25-8, 25-8)

Notre Dame 3, Sacred Heart 1 (25-22, 27-25, 20-25, 25-23)

Owensboro Catholic 3, Allen Central 1 (25-20, 18-25, 25-17, 25-8)

Paul Laurence Dunbar 3, Green County 0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-12)

Christian Co. 3, Corbin 0 (28-26, 25-17, 25-17)

Covington Scott 3, Raceland 0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-8)

Mercy 3, North Oldham 0 (25-11, 25-16, 25-16)

South Warren 3, Southwestern 0 (26-24, 25-9, 25-16)

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