It has become a rite of autumn in 42nd District varsity volleyball: Scott County eliminates Sayre from the playoffs, then puts up a scrappy fight against perennial power Henry Clay as a swan song.
Every season since the district expanded to five teams, that's how the bracket has played out. The fourth-seeded Lady Cardinals pounded out a hard-fought, 3-1 quarterfinal victory over the Spartans on Monday night before bowing 3-0 to the Blue Devils in Tuesday's semifinal season-ender.
The tournament was played at Frederick Douglass High School.
Three of the four sets against Sayre (14-5) went down to the wire. SC (5-10) struggled out of the gate as the Spartans snagged a 25-22 triumph to open the match.
Back stormed the Cards with a 25-20 win in the second stanza before a 25-9 breeze in game three. SC closed it out 25-22 in the fourth.
In a similarly tight match to close out the regular season last week, SC twice had to go past 25 points after dropping the opening set to eke out a 3-1 victory.
Emily Sue Watts and Emily Rose led Scott County with 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Melanie McClanahan furnished seven, Darian Fitzpatrick four and Amy McClure three, Makenzie Peters and Hollee Hasenbalg each added a single spike to the onslaught.
Grace Gindling and Melanie McClanahan provided strong resistance at net with five blocks apiece. Fitzpatrick furnished four, while Watts and Samantha McClanahan each swatted the Spartans three times. McClure also had a block.
Samantha McClanahan, making her senior appearance in the playoffs for Scott County, fashioned 40 of the Cards' 43 assists. Riese Leahy (two) and Melanie McClanahan (one) rouinded out that category.
Keeping points alive has been SC's calling card all season, and 67 digs against Sayre attested to that once again. Leahy (19), Samantha McClanahan (11), Jayla Harris (11) and Peters (10) all delivered double digits in that category. Grace Wells (five), Rose (four), Watts (four), Gindling (two) and McClure (one) also made point-saving contributions.
Gindling paced the Cards with six aces. Rose chipped in three, with one each from Peters and Leahy.
Henry Clay (16-3), which tuned up for the playoffs with a five-set win over perennial state title contender Louisville Sacred Heart on Oct. 8, made it business as usual with 25-15, 25-10, 25-15 triumph, clinching a trip to the 11th Region tournament in the process.
SC won an identical number of points (25-12, 25-18, 25-10) in a regular-season loss.
Watts led the Cards with seven kills against the Devils. Rose registered three, Gindling and Samantha McClanahan two each, and Melanie McClanahan and Fitzpatrick both furnished one.
Samantha McClanahan was the only Cardinal with multiple blocks (two) against tall, heavy-hitting Henry Clay. She also produced team-high totals of 12 assists and nine digs. Leahy (six) and Harris (five) supported her in the dig column.
In addition to the sweep of Sayre, SC's season also included wins over Lexington Catholic, Madison Central and Franklin County. The Cards captured at least one set in half their losses.