By Garth Shanklin
The Clermont Northeastern Lady Rockets opened their sectional tournament run with a trip to Wyoming High School to battle Deer Park on Oct. 15.
The match started well for the Lady Rockets. They jumped ahead 14-1 early in the first set and cruised to a 25-7 victory. The second set was a little closer, as the team held just a 7-6 lead early on. They expanded that lead to 12-6, causing a Deer Park timeout. The Lady Wildcats fought back, cutting the Lady Rockets’ lead to five at 19-14, but CNE closed the set with a 6-0 run to secure the victory.
The third set was a battle, with Deer Park rallying from an eight-point deficit to tie it at 20. Clermont Northeastern head coach Emma Keough then called timeout, where she helped the team get back on track.
“Whenever it started to get out of control, I called the timeout,” Keough said. “They were trying to find ways to score, and they were doing a good job finding our holes and our gaps. I said, ‘You can’t wait for them to make mistakes. You have to go out and make things happen.’ They went out and did just that.”
The Lady Rockets scored five of the next six points to take the set 25-21 and the match 3-0. Keough said starting the postseason with a victory is a “great” feeling.
“It feels great,” Keough said. “It always feels good to get a win like that right off the bat.”
She added that the team wanted to make sure they dictated the pace of the game, which she believed they were able to do.
“That’s something that we’ve been talking about,” Keough said. “Going out, taking care of business and playing our style of ball, and I think we did that.”
In the second set, the team’s serving faltered at times, which Keough tacked up to being too aggressive at the service line.
“We were trying to be overly aggressive,” Keough said. “Sometimes when you face a team that doesn’t pass well, you go for the ace, and that leads to those type of errors.”
The victory set up a matchup with fifth-seeded Seven Hills on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.
“They’re a solid team,” Keough said. “They have some good hitters. It’s a good matchup for us. Our girls have definitely taken on a new attitude and a new identity. We played Badin on [Oct. 12], and they showed the level they were capable of. I think it’ll be a great match.”
The Lady Rockets won the match, defeating Seven Hills 19-25, 25-19, 25-20 25-23 to set up a rematch with Badin at Wyoming High School on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016 at 4:30 p.m.