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Floyd Central's Courtney Combs bumps the ball to a teammate during the Highlanders' three-set loss to Providence.

FLOYDS KNOBS — Twenty-four hours after a tough loss to Class 2A No. 5 Barr-Reeve, Floyd Central needed a good, old-fashioned rivalry match against New Albany to get back on track Thursday night.

Early on, the Highlanders were still reeling from their five-set setback to the Vikings. However, they rebounded for a 25-21, 25-17, 25-11 sweep of the visiting Bulldogs in a key Hoosier Hills Conference match, as well as Floyd’s Senior Night.

“I knew we would come out flat tonight, but we stepped it up,” Highlanders head coach Bart Powell said. “New Albany made us a little hungry after the first set.”

Last year Floyd outlasted New Albany in five sets in a match that ultimately created a three-way tie atop the HHC standings between the Bulldogs, Highlanders and Columbus East. Both teams entered Thursday’s showdown undefeated in league play.

“We were a little bit more focused, but we’re not all the way there,” said New Albany coach Ryan Woosley, whose team dropped to 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the HHC.

New Albany was sharp early and a kill by Alexis Caldwell gave the Bulldogs an early 7-4 lead. Floyd Central was able to stay within striking distance for much of the set, but when a kill by Kamori Knight put New Albany on top 16-11, it looked as if the Bulldogs might steal the first set from the hosts.

“It’s easier to play with a lead,” Woosley said. “We were in sync.”

However Floyd Central put together an 8-3 run, tying it at 19 on a kill by Kaylee Hunt. It was 21-all before the Highlanders scored four straight points to close out the set. A pair of aces by Courtney Combs helped ice the win.

“Floyd Central is a great team and we did a lot of good things early, but we gave that first set away and frustration set in,” Woosley said.

Floyd was able to gain control much earlier in the second set. A block by Caroline Hilbrich put the Highlanders on top 6-5. They would lead for the rest of the set.

Later a kill by Hilbrich made 12-8, but the Bulldogs stayed close. Caldwell’s kill made it 12-9 and it was 12-10 when the Highlanders started to pull away.

A pair of aces by Hilbrich and a block by Hunt put the Highlanders on top 16-11. New Albany responded with kills by Caldwell and Tess Owsley before a block by Knight made it 18-15.

New Albany would get no closer, though. Floyd Central led 24-17 when a kill by Hunt gave the Highlanders the second-set win.

Looking for a sweep, the Highlanders rolled out to a 6-3 lead in the third set.

Kayden Holcomb led the way for the Highlanders. Her early kill made it 8-5. Later, she had a block that put Floyd in control 17-8.

Late in the set, New Albany had errors that helped Floyd Central close it out.

“We’ve got to learn to overcome adversity,” Woosley said.

New Albany tried to stay in it. A kill by Owsley made it 23-10. Shortly thereafter, though, Holcomb closed out the match with a kill and a block to make the final tally.

“Our program is about getting better every night,” said Powell, whose team improved to 6-4 overall and 4-0 in the HHC. “We’re young, I knew it would take a little time for us to get sharp.”

Holcomb finished with a team-high nine kills while Hilbrich had 10 digs and Combs notched 12 assists to lead Floyd Central, which is scheduled to play at Louisville Holy Cross on Monday before visiting Providence on Wednesday.

Owsley finished with 10 kills and Caldwell had seven kills and six digs for New Albany, which got nine digs by Bree Martin and 22 assists from Cheyenne Palmer. The Bulldogs are slated to play Jeffersonville’s Round Robin on Saturday.

 

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