By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel didn’t lose a set in its first three matches in the Steak-N-Shake Tournament. The Lady Jaguars roll was stopped there by McCreary Central (25-14, 25-14).
“You would like to think you’re the favorite in your own tournament, but I knew they were a good team,” North Laurel coach Ali Ray said.
The Lady Raiders had beaten North Laurel in straight sets when they met earlier in the McCreary Central Invitational. They will meet a third time Thursday in the regular season finale.
The Lady Raiders controlled both sets Saturday with North Laurel having trouble scoring.
“We have a hard time handling their serves. They have some really good servers and then their hitters do a really good job,” Ray said.
The Lady Jaguars were still in the second set, trailing 13-11 after a kill and tip by Kelsey Hacker. Cameron Kidd served as McCreary Central scored the next six points. Kidd served two aces, including one that tripped over the net. The Lady Raiders ended the set on a 12-3 run.
“We couldn’t get any kind of offense going,” Ray said.
The Lady Jaguars were coming off a solid win over Jackson County (25-23, 25-15). The Lady Generals also had a win over North Laurel in the preseason.
“Jackson County was probably our best game of the day,” Ray said.
The first set with the Lady Generals could have gone either way with seven ties and five lead changes. Jackson County led 23-22. A net serve tied the game and opened the door for the Lady Jaguars. Miranda Browning gave North Laurel the lead with a kill and the win with another.
The second set began as a see-saw affair with an 8-8 score marking the fourth tie. Samantha Napier served a pair of aces in a 5-0 spurt that gave North Laurel the lead for good. The Lady Jaguars would extend the lead to 19-8 and were not challenged again.
In pool play, the Lady Jaguars knocked off Leslie County and Bell County (25-22, 25-21)
“Tournament’s like these you have so much downtime in between each game it’s kind of hard to get any type of momentum going. We kind of started out flat every single game, but we ended up finishing. We didn’t play as well as we had been this week,” Ray said.
It was the net play of Browning and Marsha Boggs that allowed North Laurel to survive the first set the against the Lady Bobcats. The Lady Jaguars controlled the second set at times, although five service errors kept them from pulling away.