TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Chris Parsons / Sports Editor
NORTH LAUREL — Those in attendance at North Laurel High School may have been surprised by the play of the South Laurel Lady Cardinals on Monday, but head coach Mitzi Jones wasn’t.
Her Lady Cardinals squad shook off a pair of regular season losses to North Laurel, eliminating their crosstown rival from postseason play in a 3-1 (28-26, 25-10, 20-25 and 25-18) victory.
Norvell’s squad managed to put together the kind of match she felt her team has been capable of playing all season.
It came at just the right time too, with a trip to the 13th Region Tournament at stake.
“Our kids are coming together as a team, which is something we’ve been preaching to them all season long,” Jones said. “I’m really proud of the way they played tonight and the way they have progressed late in the season.
“We got a good win and now we just have to keep it going as we move on,” she added.
North Laurel head coach Haley Ratliff said she was pleased with her squad’s effort in the loss and the season as a whole, taking a large part of the blame for not having her team mentally prepared for Monday’s showdown.
“I have to do a better job of getting our girls ready mentally and I didn’t do that tonight,” Ratliff said. “We had a really good season and we did some good things, but it’s tough to lose and see the season end.
“The future is bright for North Laurel volleyball though, and I can’t wait to get back at it next season,” she added.
South Laurel looked poised to pull off the sweep after taking the first two sets, 28-26 and 25-10.
North Laurel came out firing in the third set as the two teams traded points for most of the way before the Lady Jags trimmed the gap to 2-1 with the 25-10 win.
South Laurel never trailed in the fourth set en rout to the 25-18 victory, setting up a district finals showdown with defending 13th Region Champion Corbin tonight.
Jones said she feels like the pressure is on the Lady Redhounds after her squad assured themselves a spot in the region tournament with Monday’s win.
“I feel like we can kind of enjoy ourselves and just come out and play hard,” Jones said. “Corbin is the defending champ coming in, so even though we’ve lost to them twice this season, the pressure is on them to come out and play well against us.”
Tonight’s championship match will get underway at 6 p.m.