By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Seven North Laurel seniors celebrated senior night with a straight set win over Clay County.
“It went really well. It was my first one so I was nervous,” North Laurel coach Haley Ratliff said.
All three sets were competitive in North Laurel’s 25-18, 25-20, 25-19 win. All three also featured times that it appeared the Lady Jaguars could take control.
“They wanted to play well so badly. They just wanted to kill it every time. You know when you get like that you just can’t do it,” Ratliff said.
There were three ties in the first set before North Laurel took the lead for good at 11-10 on a Clay County service error. A poor set by the Lady Tigers and a kill by Kelsey Hacker gave North Laurel a 13-10 lead. The lead peaked at 22-15 on a Marsha Boggs kill. Clay County would get a few points back before the Lady Jaguars pushed the lead to seven on the final point.
“After the first game they kind of relaxed a little bit and were having fun. That’s all I can ask from them. I let them have their night,” Ratliff said.
North Laurel jumped out to a quick 10-3 lead in the second set behind a mix of quality serves and points at the net. Poor serves allowed Clay County to rally.
The Lady Tigers would stay close until a late surge pushed North Laurel from a four-point lead to a 22-14 advantage with the last two points coming on aces by Hacker. Clay County pulled to within 22-18 with four straight points before the Lady Jaguars put them away. A power kill by Miranda Browning seemed to reenergize North Laurel. The set ended with a block by Browning.
North Laurel’s momentum carried over to the final set where they bolted to a 10-0 lead. The 10 points included four aces by Sierra Hedrick. The other points came on kills and well-placed tips. The tip points are an area Ratliff has seen her team improve throughout the season.
“That’s just the girls able to see the floor now. When I first got here they just wanted to kill it. Now they are seeing the gaps on the corners or on the sides,” Ratliff said. “That’s just them as volleyball players learning the game.”
Again North Laurel was slow to seal the deal. Clay County scored seven straight points behind the serves of Rachyl Harmon. The Lady Jaguars flexed some muscle at the net to open enough lead that Ratliff was able to substitute each of the seniors for a round of applause. The 19-10 lead didn’t look as good when Clay County pulled within 23-19 with five straight points.
“Luckily the younger girls came out there and did what they needed to do,” Ratliff said.
North Laurel was scheduled to play Wayne County Tuesday in their final regular season game. They will open the 50th District Tournament Monday against South Laurel.