LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
With the number of injuries this season, North Laurel coach Ali Ray decided to try a different strategy for Garrard County. T.J. Stuber, who had been playing libero, was moved to setter. With Daylen Gilbert also in the lineup it gave the Lady Jaguars two setters.
“The lineup was different, but that doesn’t change the game. They should still be able to pass it, set it, spike it. We just weren’t doing that,” Ray said.
At least not enough to beat Garrard County (5-11), who won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
The Lady Jaguars had been off since last Tuesday with three good days of practice.
“We were off the weekend, so you never know how we are going to play on Monday,” Ray said. “It’s Monday. Maybe that’s the reason.”
The Lady Lions won the first set 25-15 with serves the big difference. Eight of Garrard County’s first 14 points came on aces. They would score 11 points on aces in the first set.
“Their serves were hard, but we work on serve-receive every day in practice. We weren’t getting in front of the ball. It’s like we were misjudging it,” Ray said.
Still the Lady Jaguars were able to reel off seven straight points with Ashley Wyatt serving for a 9-8 advantage. The Lady Lions answered with a 13-1 run to take command.
North Laurel did get four kills from Samantha Napier in the first set. The play of Napier andMarsha Boggs at the net would be one of the bright spots for North Laurel.
“(Napier) has been doing well,” Ray said. “She makes things happen.”
It would be a much better second set for North Laurel. They took their first lead at 2-1 on a Napier kill and would not trail again. The Lady Lions stayed close and were within 21-19 when the Lady Jaguars closed with four straight points for the 25-19 win.
“I thought Ashley and Sam on the front line together was a lot of size. I thought Marsha Boggs did really good tonight on the front line,” Ray said.
But any momentum gained in the second set would disappear. North Laurel never led in the third set and the only tie was at 10-10. The kills that were scoring points for North Laurel in the second set did not fall in the third as Garrard County prevailed 25-20.
“We had our good times, but we hit a lot of balls out, a lot of balls in the net,” Ray said. “We weren’t capitalizing on their free balls. They would send a free ball over and we would make a mistake off of that. That’s something you can’t do.”
Ray said between the third and fourth sets she reminded the team they had been here before.
“We took Madison Southern to five sets, so I know they won’t lay down,” Ray said.
The fourth set would be marked by short runs from both teams. Four straight points by North Laurel gave them a 10-5 lead. Garrard County scored the next five for a 10-10 tie. The next five points went to North Laurel, including three aces for Daylen Gilbert. The Lady Jaguars pushed the lead to 17-11 capped off by an ace for Kelsey Rice. The Lady Jaguars were within a point at 17-16, when North Laurel got on a roll that didn’t end until they had the 25-16 win.
Despite the happy ending to the fourth set, Ray wasn’t sure what to expect in the final set.
“Nothing was going our way, so I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Ray said.
There would be six ties and three lead changes in the final set. North Laurel led 12-11 on an ace by Kelsey Rice. The Lady Lions would tie the score when a North Laurel return landed in the net. They took control with two straight aces, then ended the game when a North Laurel tip caught the net.
“I don’t think they were looking ahead,” Ray said. “They just weren’t there tonight.”
The Lady Jaguars did have a reason to look ahead with South Laurel scheduled to play at North Laurel on Tuesday.