Mercer finally beats Pioneers

October 06, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

HARRODSBURG - The Mercer County volleyball players know that what they did Tuesday night won't mean a thing this time next week. But for the time being, it goes down as perhaps their program's greatest accomplishment.

Mercer's first victory over crosstown rival Harrodsburg was a milestone for a still-growing program, cause for celebration for the seniors who had waited four years for it and a source of confidence that can be tapped in the event the two teams meet again in the postseason.

"It's a major deal," Mercer senior Kelli Perkins said. "I've been playing for four years, and we haven't won a single match against Harrodsburg. Even though we'll probably play them again in the district, tonight's a big deal for us."

Mercer had lost 11 matches to its crosstown rival in the four-year history of the program before the Scotties eked out a 25-18, 16-25, 25-22 win Tuesday at Harrodsburg.


The two teams might well cross paths again next week in the 43rd District Tournament. If that happens, the Scotties' coach said this victory will serve them well.

"This gives us a little confidence going into the district," Mercer coach David Sullivan said.

It also gives Mercer (12-17) an idea of just how far it has come since early in the season, when Harrodsburg (12-6) handily defeated the Scotties in two games.

"We essentially used Harrodsburg as a measuring stick to see how far we've progressed since early in the season," Sullivan said. "We worked pretty hard, and we wanted to be competitive with them. That was our goal from the first of the season."

Harrodsburg coach Hallie Hammond said her team's loss reveals areas where the Pioneers are lacking as they prepare to defend their district title.

"We definitely need to come together as a team, and they have to learn to fight for it," Hammond said.

Sullivan said the Mercer girls have more fight in them than they once did. He said mental toughness was a problem for his players early in the season.

"We'd get in these positions and just kind of fold," he said. "Literally every huddle, JV and varsity, we've talked about being mentally tough, and they showed some toughness tonight."

Rivalry is a friendly one

Perkins said the rivalry between Mercer and Harrodsburg is a friendly one, but she said the Scotties knew they couldn't play nice when things got tough in the decisive third game.

"Tonight we all knew we had to kick out friendships and play hard and play as a team," she said. "We know when we play a third game, we have to come together and be a team."

Harrodsburg had momentum on its side after rallying from a 14-7 deficit in game three to tie the score at 22-all. Perkins had botched a spike on the tying point, but she came back to put away three straight points to close out the match and end Mercer's five-game losing streak.

"I made up for that, and I made up for a couple of other bad points I had," Perkins said.

Hammond said many of Harrodsburg's bad points were caused by its own service errors.

"We have the offense," Hammond said. "Our passing, our setting, our hitting is good; our serving is just inconsistent."

She said that was illustrated by the Pioneers' performance in the first game.

"The difference was serving. They served us off the court, and we missed seven serves."

Hammond said the Pioneers were also hampered by the absence of one of their starters, junior Laila Graves.

No matter who was or wasn't on the court, this was a noteworthy win for Mercer.

"It's the biggest win I've had in all four years," Perkins said. "All I've wanted to do since I was a freshman is beat Harrodsburg."

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