By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
WILLIAMSBURG—With only one week remaining in the regular season, North Laurel might be playing its best volleyball. More evidence came Tuesday night when the Lady Jaguars took Whitley County, the team with the most wins in the 13th Region, to five sets.
“We hung right with them. I thought the last couple of weeks we’ve been getting better every game. I think we’re peaking at the right time,” North Laurel coach Ali Ray said.
North Laurel lost the match, (25-21, 11-25, 25-19, 10-25, 15-5) but dominated the two sets it won. The sets it lost were mostly self-inflicted.
“The games we lost we beat ourselves. It was silly mistakes that we made. It was the same thing for them. The games they lost they made mistakes,” Ray said. “That’s what I tell our girls, make them make mistakes.”
The first set was tied six times before the Lady Colonels went ahead for good at 20-19. Many of the Whitley County points came on serve errors or kills into the net by North Laurel. The Lady Jaguars would solve those problems in the second set.
“We were winning a lot of balls at the net. We were setting balls up and running an offense,” Ray said.
Ashley Wyatt served seven straight points, including three consecutive aces as North Laurel went ahead 9-2. But it was at the net where North Laurel was gaining an advantage with Miranda Browning and Marsha Boggs controlling the action.
Although the third set was close, North Laurel never gained a lead. They were within 21-18 when they won a long volley. That rally would end with a bad set and a net kill. Ray tried every combination to get her team to respond and was down to two substitutions when the set ended.
North Laurel took control of the fourth set when Kelsey Hacker began to serve. The Lady Jaguars went from a 5-5 tie to a 12-5 lead.
“Kelsey always gives us a little spark serving. She got us on a run,” Ray said. “Jada Imoff also. When she is in the game she provides some kind of spark.”
The fifth set would be all Whitley County. After a 2-2 tie, the Lady Colonels reeled off eight straight points. North Laurel could not return the serves of Summer Gray.
“We couldn’t handle her serve and we work on that every day in practice,” Ray said.
Still Ray thinks the close match with Whitley County shows her team is almost where they need to be going into the post season.
“I think we are starting to learn the things we have to do to get the job done,” Ray said.