By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
The North Laurel Lady Jaguars finished the season with a 17-17 mark, missing out on a chance to go to the 13th Region Tournament after falling to South Laurel.
The Lady Jaguars put up a good fight in the 50th District Tournament, but failed to get past South Laurel as they still look for the program’s first win over the Lady Cardinals.
Despite the way the season ended, head coach Ali Ray said she felt like her team was playing as good as any team in the region over the last month.
“Even though our record doesn’t indicate it, I really think we played our best volleyball at the end of the season,” Ray said. “I also think we were playing as good as anybody in the region as things wound down, but we just couldn’t get things together at the same time.
“We were doing some things well at one point and other things at other times,” she said. “You really have to play well in all aspects as the postseason approaches or else you’re not going to be able to beat the teams you have to beat to advance.”
After wining the first two matches of the season, North Laurel stumbled to drop the next two contests. At that point it looked like things were going the wrong way for Ray and company.
A mediocre showing in the McCreary Central Invitational Tournament lit a fire under the Lady Jaguars as they rattled off three straight wins and also won seven of the next nine matches.
A 3-2 mark in the Lady Colonel First Priority Volleyball Classic was the calm before the storm as North Laurel lost five of the next seven contests before winning three out of the last five to close out the regular season.
After the loss to South Laurel, Ray said goodbye to six seniors, but she said next year’s senior class will go a long way in filling the huge hole left by this year’s graduates.
“We have a huge class of juniors that will be looked to a lot next season,” Ray said. “The seniors we lost this year were really difference makers on the floor.
“They weren’t all the most talented on the floor, but their effort was something that provided leadership for our team,” she added. “Next year’s seniors will have to provide the same type of leadership if we’re going to be successful.”
As for changes, Ray said the one thing she hoped to do next season is play tougher competition, as opposed to the number of matches her team played this year.
“I feel like we really played a lot this year, but it wasn’t always against the best competition,” Ray said. “When you talk about teams in the northern part of the state, you think the teams would be equal because we’re in the same state, but that’s not the case.
“If you want to get better, I think you really have to play better teams and we really don’t have a bunch of them in our area,” she added. “We’ll look at that when the time comes and hopefully it will benefit it next season.”
By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
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