Madison Southern coach Jeremy Grant expected his team to struggle a bit in the first few weeks of the season.
And with good reason.
The Lady Eagles graduated a record-breaking group of seniors - three of which signed to play at the college level - and had a limited amount of practice time because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, he's been pleasantly surprised by what he has seen on the court so far.
"If you would have told me (before the season) that we would be sitting here at 4-1, I don't know that I would have believed you," Grant said. "I think we are still figuring things out. We just don't have the chemistry yet. They just haven't played together enough."
Southern pushed its winning streak to three matches with a 3-0 win at home Tuesday over 44th District rival Berea Community. The Lady Eagles won by scores of 25-20, 25-14, 25-18.
Southern got a battle from the Lady Pirates, who certainly made them work hard for a victory.
The Lady Eagles had early leads in all three sets, but Berea battled back.
Southern had a 22-11 advantage in the first set after back-to-back kills by Kyla Atkins. Berea put together a surge before the Lady Eagles finally finished things off.
Southern was up 4-0 in the second set, then the Lady Pirates got within a point (6-5). A 9-0 run gave the Lady Eagles a 10-point lead.
In the third set, Southern raced out to a 10-3 advantage. Faith Dennis had back-to-back aces to start a Berea surge that got them within four points (14-10).
Autumn Griffith had an ace and a kill to held the Lady Eagles seal the win.
Atkins had a tremendous performance on Monday in a win over Garrard County - 19 assists, 10 aces, 10 digs, seven kills and two blocks. The junior shined again against Berea, finishing with 15 assists, six kills, six digs and three aces.
"Kyla has had quite a run the past few games," Grant said. "She's just kind of doing it all."
Griffith had 16 digs, while Avery St. John had eight kills, four aces and two digs.
"I thought Avery played really well tonight. She got us some big kills. Autumn is flying around doing her thing too," Grant said.
Julia Bingham had six blocks, four kills, two aces and two digs. Macie Daniels had three kills and three blocks. Reese Estep had three kills and five digs. Kara Combs had 11 assists and two digs. Bre Dawes had seven digs. Kennedy Johnson had five digs. Emily Young had four digs. Ally Sizemore had two digs. Emma Haselwood had two digs and Chloe Osborn had one dig.
The Lady Pirates opened district play with a 3-0 win over Model Laboratory on Monday and fell to 2-2 on the season with the loss to Southern.
Berea's Faith Dennis had 12 assists, five digs and three aces. Taelor Alexander had 12 digs. Sophia Dobbins had six kills and six digs. Morgan Short had five blocks and four kills. Serenity Short had seven digs. Kaley Harrison had three aces and two digs. Taylor Johnson had one ace and one kill, while Trinity Hannon had four kills.
Southern is set for another district match-up when Madison Central visits Berea on Thursday. The Lady Eagles will take on Model next week.
"All these district games got bunched together," Grant said. "So, we will see what happens."
Berea is set to return to action today at home against Frankfort.
Burgin tops Model
The Model Laboratory volleyball team put together its best all-around performance of the season, but couldn't come up with a win on Tuesday at Eastern Kentucky University.
The Lady Patriots (0-4) were handed a 3-1 loss by Burgin. The Lady Bulldogs won by scores of 25-16, 26-24, 16-25 and 25-20.
It was the first set Model had won this season.
Haley Hollis had six kills, four digs, three assists, two aces and one block for the Lady Patriots. Taylor Lecompte had five kills. Liz Dickerson had eight assists, four digs, four aces and two kills. Rachel McClurg had four assists, two aces, two kills and one dig.
Marie Whitehead had four assists and four digs, while Leah Smith had three assists, two aces and one dig.
Model is set to return to action Wednesday at Madison Central.