A year ago, the Boyle County volleyball team rolled out the welcome mat for its opponents at its invitational tournament. This year, however, the Rebels pulled the rug out from under a few of them.
They went 3-2 this weekend and won the consolation division at the Boyle County Invitational, where they didn’t win a single match last year.
And while winning is obviously more fun than losing, some of the Rebels said having fun is one of the things that has helped them get off to a better start this summer as they come off their worst season in five years, and they said that was one of the things they tried to do in their tournament.
“Having fun is the big thing,” Amy Woolum, one of Boyle’s three seniors, said Saturday after the tournament at Centre College.
Boyle coach Cate Guthrie said she can tell her players are enjoying themselves much more.
“They love being together, they love to smile and have fun. They love volleyball, basically,” Guthrie said.
The Rebels were all smiles after defeating Whitley County 25-21, 25-19 on Saturday to win the bronze division for teams that finished third and fourth in the two four-team pools.
“We did well with our communication, keeping our momentum up and having fun in general,” senior Lisa Talbott said.
Losses in two of their three pool matches Friday and Saturday took Boyle (5-5) out of championship contention, but the Rebels bounced back to beat Mercer County in a consolation semifinal and Whitley in the final, and they said that should give them some momentum to avoid the kind of funk they fell into last year, when they lost their first 10 matches and went on to finish 7-22-1.
“I definitely think we’re working and playing more as a team this year,” Talbott said.
Talbott and Woolum said the team’s skill level and communication level have improved, and Guthrie said she thinks that’s because they have more experience. Only one Rebel plays for a club team, but Guthrie said others played more frequently throughout the offseason than in the past.
“There are a lot of them that have found a way to play volleyball in the offseason. That’s what it takes to get better,” she said.
Guthrie said the leadership from Talbott, Woolum and fellow senior Morgan Blevins has also been strong.
“They’re all so different. They all lead in different ways,” Guthrie said.
“This being our last year, we’re looking forward to winning a lot more games than last year,” Woolum added.
Talbott said taking home a trophy from their own tourney was a good start.
“In our tournament, definitely,” she said.
Casey County also had a much better time at the Boyle invitational than a year ago. Last year they came to the tournament eight days after the death of teammate Olivia Shugars and managed a 2-2 finish while playing with heavy hearts.
Casey won every set in its pool matches this weekend, then defeated Rockcastle County 25-13, 26-24 in a semifinal before falling to defending champion Nelson County 25-22, 25-14 in the championship match of the gold division.
“I’m very proud of this weekend,” Casey coach Veronica Sengkhamyong said. “And I think if we’d played as a team against Nelson we could have won, but we didn’t play as a team in that match. But I’m proud of them.”
Danville and Mercer County each went 0-4 in the tournament.
Boyle County Invitational
At Centre College
Boyle County def. Danville 21-15, 21-12.
Nelson County def. Rockcastle County 21-14, 20-22, 15-10.
Nelson County def. Boyle County 21-5, 21-12.
Casey County def. Mercer County 21-13, 21-9.
Western Hills def. Whitley County 21-19, 22-20.
Casey County def. Western Hills 21-13, 21-14.
Rockcastle County def. Danville 21-7, 21-8.
Rockcastle County def. Boyle County 21-11, 15-21, 15-12.
Nelson County def. Danville 21-10, 21-15.
Whitley County def. Mercer County 26-28, 21-15, 15-11.
Casey County def. Whitley County 21-12, 21-14.
Western Hills def. Mercer County 21-18, 17-21, 15-12.
Bronze (Consolation) Division
Boyle County def. Mercer County 25-15, 14-25, 15-9.
Whitley County def. Danville 25-21, 25-17.
Boyle County def. Whitley County 25-21, 25-19.
Gold (Championship) Division
Nelson County def. Western Hills 25-8, 25-8.
Casey County def. Rockcastle County 25-13, 26-24.
Nelson County def. Casey County 25-22, 25-14.