Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Ainsworth to the Rescue for Mustangs

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Ainsworth to the Rescue for Mustangs

Article excerpt


VOLLEYBALL: Junior fills in at setter for Lakewood Ranch

Kelly Ainsworth did not know what to expect from her junior season on the Lakewood Ranch High volleyball team.

But she certainly did not expect this.

A libero and defensive specialist, Ainsworth moved into the setter's position after the early season injury to senior Ali Milbourn.

The Mustangs have not missed a beat.

Ainsworth dished out 20 assists, as Lakewood Ranch coasted past North Port 3-0 Wednesday night, 25-8, 25-9, 25-12, in a Class 7A- District 10 match at the Bobcats Cage.

"I kind of came into it thinking I was going to be a passer," Ainsworth said. "And then Ali got injured. I became a setter and took advantage of the opportunity.

"At first I was really nervous, but I guess I grew into it."

Mustangs coach Perri Hankins takes time before and after most practices to work with Ainsworth on her setting skills.

"Any time we can get a chance," Hankins said. "She didn't have a lot of reps before we started her for Ali."

Ainsworth received plenty of work Saturday, playing in five matches at the Gene Gorman Invitational at Charlotte High. Lakewood Ranch prevailed, winning the event with a 4-1 record and defeating the host Tarpons in the final.

"We all came together. It was the best we ever played," Ainsworth said. "We all got really into it and came together as a team."

Still sometimes the libero in Ainsworth comes out and she bumps the ball up, instead of using her hands.

"That's one thing she is really good at: If the pass isn't well, she just gets the ball up we can hit," Hankins said.

"My hitters are really supportive," Ainsworth said. "You can put anything up and they will slam it down."

Nicole Grant slammed down 10 kills. Colleen Campbell added eight kills.

"Those girls are very talented," North Port coach Becky Halbert said. "They are jumping so high and hitting it straight down. …

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