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Mercer volleyball season ends in region semifinals

Titans end their season with a record 18-8

Mercer County senior Jaclyn Devine connects on one of her team-high nine kills against Pulaski County in the 12th Region semifinals on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Southwestern High School. (photo by Arpan Dixit)

Arpan Dixit
Herald Staff      

It wasn’t the ending they wanted, but the Mercer County Titans volleyball team had their best season since 2014, winning 18 games, 16 of them coming in region play.

Mercer County’s season ended at the hands of the Pulaski County Maroons in straight sets, 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 27-25), in the 12th Region semifinals on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Southwestern High School.

This was the first time the Titans made it to the region semifinals since 2008.

Pulaski County was looking for revenge, after suffering a thrilling five-set loss to the Titans in early October.

The Maroons started off hot, winning the first five points of the first set. Freshman Jai Maria Piazza blocked an attempted kill by the Maroons to cut the lead to 11, 17-6, and senior Zoë Yeast connected on a kill to cut the lead to nine, 19-10, but the Maroons closed the set out with ease, 25-17.

The Titans came out and played a much better second set. A kill by Piazza gave the Titans the lead early, 6-5, and a kill by senior Hanna Blevins tied the set at eight after the Maroons went on a mini run. Mercer County had a 22-21 lead after an error into the net by the Maroons. They called timeout shortly after, and the meeting in the huddle seemed to work. Pulaski rattled off four straight points to claim the second set, 25-22.

The third set looked really good for Mercer County at the beginning, winning the first five points, forcing the Maroons to call an early timeout.

A kill by senior Jaclyn Devine gave the Titans a 12-7 lead in the middle of the set. Mercer County had the momentum and were able to force a timeout after claiming four straight points to make it 24-16. The unthinkable happened shortly after. Pulaski County clawed their way back to cut the lead to three, 24-21. The Maroons were able to tie it at 24, before the Titans were able to get a point to make it 25-24. Unfortunately for Mercer County, the Maroons ended the set like they had the previous two, on a run, scoring the final three points to win the set and earn a berth in the region championship game.

It was a tough way to end a magical season for the Titans, but Head Coach Lynn Flach was proud of the way her team competed this season.

“I gave all of them a hug and told them I know that wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but that I was very proud of them. We had a great season overall. I told them not to let this last game define our season,” said Flach. “I was very proud to be their coach. They did a great job all season long. They set the bar high for the younger kids that are following them.”

The Titans also made some history this season. Senior Brinkley Prewitt, sophomore Haven Six and Devine each broke school records this season. Devine had the most kills in a game, Prewitt had the most digs in a game and Six had the most assists in a game.

“I just sit and think about how far our seniors have come in the four years I’ve been coaching them. When they first came in their freshmen year, they were just little girls who would get on your nerves,” Flach said with a smile. “Now, they just have gelled and stuck with it all four years. They’ve improved every single year. Once a kid gets into high school to about their sophomore year, they kind of peak and you know what they’re going to do. But this group of seniors got better every single year. Last year, we were junior strong and we took a lot of beatings. I just think the experiences they had from last year, they took and learned from. They went in this year with a completely different mind set and they learned how to win. It’s been so much fun.”

Devine was named to the 12th Region regular season second team after the conclusion of the game. She led the Titans this year in kills with 343, second in digs with 219 and had the most aces with 55.

“It was so fun to see her growth from 2016 to now. She can be in the middle of doing something, I can yell at her, and she can change it and fix it and do whatever I ask her to do,” said Flach. “She went from all power to control and consistency in her four years here. I didn’t want it to all be about power. As the years went on, she learned to mix power with control and strategy. As the years have gone on, that’s what she’s been able to do. She’s a phenomenal player and so much fun to coach. I love her like my own child.”

The Titans ended their season with a record of 18-8, 16-6 in region play and 3-3 in district play. Final stats:

Kills – Jaclyn Devine 343, Hanna Blevins 112, Zoë Yeast 105, Jai Maria Piazza 86, Haven Six 50, Kaelynn Jones 36, Salena Cox 13, Brinkley Prewitt 1, Jamesyn White 1, Kiera Marcum 1.

Blocks – Yeast 48, Jones 30, Piazza 20, Devine 15, Six 14, Blevins 5, Cox 3.

Assists – Six 591, Prewitt 28, Cox 26, Blevins 5, Taylor Murphy 3, White 2, Devine 1, Yeast 1.

Digs – Prewitt 341, Devine 219, Blevins 201, Six 32, Cox 29, White 28, Maddie Nichols 13, Jones 9, Piazza 9, Yeast 6, Murphy 1.

Aces – Devine 55, Blevins 46, Prewitt 40, Six 38, Jones 22, Nichols 13, White 4, Piazza 4, Marcum 3, Cox 2, Murphy 1.

Devine was named to the regular season All 12th Region Second Team after the region tournament last week. (photo by Lynn Flach)

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