CORBIN - Harlan County’s postseason run came to a halt Wednesday, as the Lady Bears fell to South Laurel in the semifinals of the 13th Region volleyball tournament. Harlan County improved its play in each set, but fell 25-5, 25-18, 25-19 to the Lady Cardinals.
“I thought our girls played well tonight. South Laurel has a great team. I am proud of our girls. They have come really far,” said Harlan County coach Donna Vicini. “They played better as a team than any team I have had in a long time.”
South’s Taylor Arthur controlled the net in the first game. The senior recorded nine points at the net to power South Laurel. The Lady Cards jumped out to a 15-5 lead in the opener and never trailed, as Harlan County made several uncharacteristic mistakes.
Harlan County got off to a better start in the second set. The Lady Bears led 4-3, but South’s Josey Mounce scored on a serve to tie the game. An ace from Mounce gave South a lead on the next point, and the Lady Cards never trailed the rest of the way. Harlan County was down by 10 at 24-14, but didn’t go away quietly. Whitney Stevens started a late rally with a spike for a point. Chyanna Harris later recorded a service ace and Stevens followed with another spike to close the gap to 6. However, Harris’ next serve was into the net, and the Lady Cards picked up the win.
Harlan County stayed close throughout the final set. The Lady Bears trailed by just one when Kaylee Norvell’s serve went long, but South scored four straight from that point to take an 11-6 advantage. Breanna Dunson snapped the skid with an ace to make it 11-7. Dunson and fellow senior setter Cara Middleton both turned in good efforts.
“Both of my setters played good. They play hard and they fought back,” Vicini said. “Our setters have been wonderful all year.”
Harlan County trailed by just two at 17-15, but pushes from Middleton and Keisha Mimes fell short on the next two points. South Laurel went on a 5-2 run from that point to force a match point. The Lady Bears stayed alive as Stevens scored on a dig and Mounce’s return was into the net on the next two exchanges, but Rebecca Eldridge’s serve was long on the ensuing service allowing South to hang on.
Harlan County closes the season at 17-10. The Lady Bears’ stellar season included a perfect record against district opponents and a 52nd District championship. South Laurel (19-6) will meet Corbin in the 13th Region championship today.