The Manual volleyball streak is over.
For the first time in seven years, a school other than Manual claimed the Jefferson County Public Schools Volleyball Invitational.
The streak ended Sunday as No. 15 Eastern took control in the third game of the championship match and pulled away from Butler 26-24, 19-25, 25-13 at MidAmerica Sports Center.
In the semifinals, Butler (5-2) did the job of dethroning Manual, roaring past the 11th-ranked Crimsons 19-25, 25-22, 25-18, while Eastern (8-0) stopped No. 13 Male 25-17, 25-20.
In the finals, Eastern got off to a sparkling start, scoring the first five points and moving out to a 13-5 lead before the Bearettes rallied.
“They just decided they wanted to play harder,” Butler coach Abby Morris said of her team. “We didn’t want to leave with any regrets.”
When a shot by Eastern middle hitter Madalyn Wead went long, Butler grabbed its first lead of the match, 23-22.
The Eagles, trailing 24-23, regrouped and scored the last three points of the first game: a kill by Taylor Bowling, a service ace by Katie Weatherholdt, and then a return error by the Bearettes.
In the second game, Butler turned the tables and finished with a 9-3 run to climb back into the match as Shania Dages and Alyssa Cosgrove combined for six kills — three each — during the run.
“We just made too many mistakes, too many errors,” Eastern coach Laura Bowling said of the second game. “We just handed it to them. We had too many unforced errors.”
In the third game, with Eastern leading 9-7, the Eagles seized control with a dominating 12-2 run, starting with a kill by Megan Willoughby and combined with solid serving from Weatherholdt and Amanda Frank.
“Our serving is one of the strongest aspects of our game,” Bowling said. “Typically, teams have a hard time with our serving.”
The Eagles cruised to a match-deciding win, 25-13.
For Eastern, the win caps a week when it beat No. 11 Manual on Monday, then Male and Butler in the tournament.
“It’s been a great week,” Bowling said. “It’s a good start for Eastern. We have a close-knit group, and that helps.”
“Our goal is to be the best public school team in Louisville and we already did that today. People have overlooked Eastern (in volleyball). They need to know who we are.”
Taylor Bowling, the coach’s daughter and one of Eastern’s two co-captains, said she was glad to finally beat Manual and Butler.
“It’s the first time we’ve beaten Butler and it’s a great feeling,” she said.