BY AARON SNYDER
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
WESTWOOD Tiffany Perry condones home-run swings in October.
Kate Ruggles went to the metaphorical bat rack.
The junior unleashed the hardest hit of the night for an emphatic kill in the third set of Russell’s 3-0 win over West Carter in the 16th Region volleyball tournament on Tuesday.
The point locked it up at 15-15 and sparked a match-ending 11-3 run as Russell claimed a 25-18 set victory. The Lady Devils won the first two, 25-15 and 25-20. They’ll enter tonight’s semifinal match against Rowan County with 30 wins in tow.
“When they don’t swing hard, they don’t get points,” Perry said of her team. “They were taking it easy at the net.”
Grace Satterwhite had a few violent hits, too, to help propel Russell to the region semifinals for the second straight season.
Twenty-three days separated West Carter’s 2-0 defeat of Russell in the Lady Lion Invitational at Boyd County on Sept. 22, but the loss was still fresh on the Lady Devils’ minds. Russell had been flawless against region foes until that day. “They definitely wanted to beat (West Carter) because of that tournament,” Perry said. “It’s been a long time coming. We drew West, and I have so much respect for their coach and thir team, but when someone beats you and you have a near-perfect season, you want to get revenge, and I think we did that in the best way we could.”
Russell (30-4) touts quality chemistry and good communication as a couple of its strongest traits.
Said Ruggles: “We all love each other, we love playing with each other. We’re all in, all in.”
After a convincing first set, Russell zoomed out to a 23-9 advantage in Set 2. Kendall Staton laid out for a superb dig to account for the 23rd point.
West Carter (25-12) responded by scoring 11 of the next 12 points, making it 24-20. Peyton Steagall, Emily Adkins and Hailey James all had key kills during the run. Jayla Taylor’s serving was on-point.
Russell managed to hold on for a 25-20 win, though, as West Carter knocked the ball into the net to punctuate the set.
“We have the talent and the skill, but it’s a matter of believing in ourselves and having confidence,” said West Carter coach Christie Tackett. “That (scoring spurt) was one of the times when you saw the mental toughness come through. We still made too many mistakes, but we’re young. We start a freshman and a couple sophomores. Looking back on it, I’d still say we’re a work in progress.”
Satterwhite had back-to-back aces and Rachel Saunders came up with a block to help Russell shoot out to a 1410 lead in the third set. Madison Adkins, Steagall and Brooklyn Carroll had kills to help the Lady Comets even it up at 14-14. A Rebecca Stevens ace gave West Carter its final lead, 15-14.
Perry conveyed a message during a timeout when it was knotted at 14-all.
“I told them, ‘strong teams finish it,’” Perry said. “They finished it, and finished it well. I’m proud of their effort.”
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