Bell wins five-set thriller over HCHS to capture third straight district crown


The Harlan County Lady Bears fell to Bell County in five sets on Tuesday in the 52nd District Tournament finals at Harlan.

By John Henson, Managing Editor

A Bell County team streamrolling to a third straight 52nd District title, including 19 straight district victories and wins in every set through seven district matches this year, found itself in a battle on Tuesday at Harlan in the district finals against Harlan County.
The Lady Bears took a 1-0 lead after one set and a 2-1 lead after three sets but couldn’t finish off the upset as Bell fought back for a 14-25, 25-19, 25-27, 25-21, 15-5 win.
“They fought hard and never gave up,” Harlan County coach Christina Spurlock said. “They kept the best energy all night. We started as a team and ended as a team. I’m so proud of them.”
Bell sophomore Gracie Jo Wilder was again the difference at the net for the Lady Cats as she came up with numerous clutch points. Wilder took over the deciding fifth set as the Lady Cats raced to a 5-0 lead and coasted to the win.
Harlan County dominated the first set as the Lady Bears took a 5-1 lead with Lindsey Browning service. Kalista Dunn reeled off seven straight points after Lilly Caballero recorded a kill to start an 8-0 run that put HCHS up 14-4. Another Browning kill extended the lead to 19-6 before Bell made a late run.
With the Lady Bears down 16-14 in the third set, Dunn helped HCHS grab the momentum with four straight service points. The set went back and forth before Dunn broke a 25-all tie with a kill before Bell’s return went long to give the Lady Bears the win.
HCHS got as close as 21-20 in the fourth set before Bell closed with a 4-1 run to force a decisive fifth set.
Destiny Cornett led the 7-16 Lady Bears with 20 assists, four kills and two service aces. Kalista Dunn added eight service aces, nine digs, five kills and three assists. Lindsay Hall had six service aces and five kills. Serenity Whitehead contributed four service aces, five kills and one dig. Lindsey Browning added three service aces, five kills and one dig. Lily Caballero had five digs and one kill.
No statistics were available for the 21-8 Lady Cats.
Both teams advance to 13th Region Tournament action next week.