West Carter Lady Comets volleyball head coach Christie Tackett celebrated her birthday Tuesday night in the best fashion possible, with her first district championship as head coach.
“I told the girls that all I wanted for my birthday was that trophy and they fought really hard to get it for me,” said Tackett.
The Lady Comets gave Tackett a scare, but rallied back from two losses winning three straight sets and their first district title since 2015. They Lady Comets topped their East Carter rivals 3-2 (25-27, 24-26, 25-14, 25-14, 15-8) in the 62nd District championship.
“I think we came out with a case of nerves. We played a little relaxed and made a few mistakes. One too many, more than one too many actually. But I think more than anything it was nerves. We had to refocus and I think that alone says a lot about who they are, that they were able to come back and win three straight.”
The Lady Raiders, despite a rocky start to their season, came ready for the postseason. They have been the reigning champs for the last four years and they came out Wednesday night looking to make it a fifth.
“Our energy was there. We knew we had to start out strong. We knew we had to win those first few sets or our morale and energy would have completely dropped. I just told them to go out there and do their job, and that is what they did,” said head coach of the Lady Raiders, Jennifer Clark.
The score was knotted eight times during the first set and their were seven lead changes during the Lady Raiders extended victory 27-25.
The Lady Raiders even battled back from a six-point deficit, 17-11. Offensive power was provided by the Lady Raiders’ Jascie Greene and Aylssa Narrave. Navarre had two solo blocks in the first set and one kill.
The score was tied for the final time 24-24. Three errors by the Lady Comets and serving error by the Lady Raiders decided the fate of the first set.
The Lady Comets turned up the heat during the second set but once again let their nerves get the best of them. After jumping to a ten point lead, they slowly allowed the Lady Raiders back in the set.
By keeping the ball in play, the Lady Raiders allowed the Lady Comets to defeat themselves once again.
They narrowed the gap, 17-15, and remained within striking distance. A serving error followed by two balls into the net knotted the score for the first time 24-24. Two hits out of bounds cost the Lady Comets the second set.
“Usually our second set is a second set slump, but they kept that energy up. That second set win was phenomenal,” said Clark.
By the third set, the Lady Comets had shaken off the postseason nerves.
“We came into the first two set with the same mentality that we did last year. We were more relaxed then we should have been and worrying about what was gonna happen afterwards, but our coach rallied us back up after those first two sets. She said, it was do or die for us. It was our last district championship as seniors and we haven’t had one since 2015,” said Emily Adkins.
“It was Christie’s birthday. So that was a little extra motivation.”
A kill by Greene got the set started and an ace by Kileigh Boggs put the Lady Raiders up 2-0. The lead wasn’t long lived.
The first two losses set a fire behind the Lady Comets. They knotted the score 2-2 and took the lead with senior Emily Adkins at the serve. Adkins served the Lady Comets to a 6-2 lead. She had two aces during the third set an assist the block with her sister Madison Adkins.
The Lady Comets were determined to not have a repeat of last seasons 3-0 loss to the Lady Raiders during the district championship.
“We tried to settle down. It took a couple sets to do that. Once we got our focus, we really fought hard and I am proud,” said Tackett.
“We didn’t want a repeat of last year, so that was part of our drive. We knew it could happen. We came into tonight knowing it was a possibility we could lose if we didn’t play our best game, because they always play their best game against us,” said Tackett.
Madison Adkins tipped the ball over the net into open territory for the second to last point 24-14 and Brooklyn Carroll delivered the final blow for a 25-14 victory.
“It felt really good. I helped my team get the win, our team got the win and I am going out with a bang,” said Carroll.
The Lady Comets faced a little more resistance in the fourth set. The score was tied 1-1, 5-5, 7-7, 10-10 and 11-11. With Hailey James at the serve, the Lady Comets finally broke away and jumped to a 10-point lead 23-13. A kill by Rebecca Stevens and an East Carter error replicated the third set, 25-14.
The Lady Comets took the early lead in the tiebreaker set and never looked back. Despite the Lady Raiders tying the score 4-4, the Lady Comets remained on top.
“It really is a dream come true for my girls and myself. That (the district championship) is our biggest goal. We have reached a lot of goals in regular season both last year and this year, but we have never been much of a tournament team… Now is a time when you need to step up and show that you are champions.”
Senior Emily Adkins led the Lady Comets to victory. She had an ace, three kills and a solo block in the final set. Stevens closed out the set 15-8.
“It was tough. East Carter played a really good game. It might have been one of the better games they have played all year. But you don’t have a lot of room for error when you have to win three straight. You just have to keep your head on and not worry about the last play you made. You have to worry about the next play you are going to make,” said Emily.
Both teams advanced to the Regional tournament held Rowan County Senior High School. West Carter faced Greenup County Monday night in the first game of the tournament. East Carter faced Rowan County Tuesday night.
The semi finals will be played tonight at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Rowan County Senior High School.