NICHOLASVILLE — The Burgin volleyball team left here with something to build on, but that wasn’t what the Bulldogs came for.
Burgin was for an upset win that would give it a third straight district championship, but West Jessamine denied that with a four-set victory Thursday night in the 46th District Tournament championship at East Jessamine.
The Bulldogs’ consolation prize came in the way they delayed that defeat with a stirring rally in the third set of their 25-11, 25-21, 25-27, 25-14 loss. And while that was at least something good they could take away from this match, it wasn’t enough.
“This is pretty disappointing after having the two district championships in a row,” Burgin coach Maggie McKnight said. “It’s frustrating to let this one slip through our fingers, but at the same time I’m really proud of how hard they worked.”
That work paid off in the third set, when Burgin (21-13) came from behind twice and survived one set point before extending the match.
“They were able to keep their heads in the game, they were able to stay focused, they were able to work when we were really up against some tough odds, so I’m just really proud of the way they pulled together and pulled that third game off,” McKnight said. “I think it gave them kind of a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm, especially going into the regional tournament next week.”
West Jessamine (26-5) was still in the driver’s seat, however, after routing Burgin in the first set and squeaking by in the second. The Colts regained control early in the fourth set and went on to close out their third win in as many matches against the Bulldogs this season.
On the other hand, this was the only one of those three matches in which Burgin wasn’t swept. And McKnight said the Bulldogs can use that next week in the 12th Region Tournament at Mercer County, where they will play Lincoln County, Pulaski County or Southwestern in the first round.
“We already know going in as a No. 2 who our potential draws are going to be on Saturday, and a couple of those are teams that we’ve lost to this season, and one of them (Lincoln) is a team that we’ve managed to beat this season. So we know that if we clean up our passing game, then I feel like this third game — because we haven’t taken a game from West all season — that shows us that we are capable of not just hanging with teams at this level, but beating them,” she said.
Burgin trailed West Jessamine, which was moved to the 12th Region this year, 19-16 in the third set before scoring three of the next four points, the last on an ace by Savannah Caldwell. West Jessamine came back with three straight points, but the Bulldogs responded with four in a row, getting kills from Randi Burke and Emilee Hurt and a block from Hurt during the mini-run that tied the set at 23-all.
A West Jessamine point left the Bulldogs one point from defeat, but a kill by Hurt tied the score again, and they went on to score four of the next five points, winning the set on a block by Liz Marcinek.
“First and foremost, they passed better in that third game,” McKnight said. “Our kill numbers were up in that third game, but I attribute that to better passing. When my back line gives (setter) Summer (Burke) balls to handle and set up, then that’s when we start putting kills on the board rather than just throwing over pushes, free balls, tips, mishandled balls that weren’t passed effectively to begin with.”
West Jessamine coach Debbie Rose said the Bulldogs are a difficult team to beat when they’re passing well.
“They’re very scrappy, and when they do get a pass up to their hitters, they can hit the ball. And they play smart. They threw a couple tips at us that we weren’t ready for, and they played well. They came back and scrapped out that third game and made it a match,” Rose said.
The momentum quickly went back to West Jessamine in the fourth set, however, as the Colts raced to an 8-2 lead. Burgin cut a six-point deficit in half and was within 14-11 when West Jessamine scored four straight points behind two aces and a kill from Kristen Fristoe, then clinched the win with a 6-0 run that made it 24-13.
Summer Burke had three aces and May and Taylor Sanders had two each for Burgin.
Morgan Adams, East Jessamine; Darby Bourdon, Mercer County; Randi Burke, Burgin; Amy Gatliff, West Jessamine; Liz Marcinek, Burgin; Ashlee Rose, West Jessamine; Kelsey Sanders, West Jessamine.