LAKE CORMORANT – For the first two sets, the Lafayette Lady Commodores gave the Lake Cormorant Lady Gators their best shot.
The early sets proved what Lafayette can do to other teams in the state, but they couldn’t string it together for the entire match as Lake Cormorant ran away with it in the end 3-1 (21-25, 25-21, 25-10, 25-16) Thursday night at Lake Cormorant High School.
Lafayette (4-3 overall, 0-1 in Division 1-5A) played their best volleyball of the season to date blocking the attacking hits from Lake Cormorant (6-8, 2-0) while executing on offense. In the first set, the Lady ‘Dores scored 18 of their 25 points from a successful block defensively or a kill on offense.
“We just kept it simple,” Lafayette head coach Kelsie Poole said about her team’s start. “We want to play our game; we want to execute when the ball is on our side of the net, then we get down and play defense. We played really good defense. We’ve got to execute and we did that in the first and second set.”
The second set started off strongly for Lafayette, gathering a lead of seven points at 14-7. However, when Lake Cormorant’s Alaijiah Rose rotated back into the front row, that’s when the Lady Gators made their run causing havoc not just on offense, but defensively as well. Rose ended the night with match-highs of 21 kills and 11 blocks for a double-double. She also added in seven digs and four service aces for good measure. Lake Cormorant ended the set outscoring Lafayette 18-7 to tie the match at 1-1.
In the third set, Lake Cormorant raced out to a 7-0 lead that only ballooned for the rest of the set en route to a 25-10 set three win. While progress was seen tonight in Lafayette’s efforts in the first two sets, Poole knows more work needs to be done to keep that same focus throughout a match.
“We got a little mental lapse in the second set, it was fine,” Poole said. “The third set, I told them ‘you can’t play that way the first and second set and completely disappear in the third set.’ That’s a momentum killer. We came out in the fourth set, and it took a little bit to get into that swing, but unfortunately it was too little too late.”
Lafayette never could completely recapture that momentum as the fourth set started out much like the third set with Lake Cormorant racing out to a 6-1 lead, but Lafayette was able to not let the lead balloon like it did in the third set, instead cutting into the early lead down to two before the Lady Gators made that back up midway through the set and then was able to pull away 25-16 in the end.
“We are going to keep practice the exact same,” Poole said regarding being able to stay focused for a complete match. “That team you saw the first and second set, that’s the team that I know can show up every single night. We’ve got two 13-year-olds, eighth graders playing in the back row and they are doing a great job.”
In addition to Rose’s all-around performance, Lake Cormorant was led defensively by Annah Marshall’s match-high 23 digs. Paige Griffin also chipped in seven kills for the Lady Gators. Lafayette was led defensively by Chloe Carr with a team-highs of 18 digs and four aces. Grace Foster and London-Grace Daniels each added 10 digs. Sara Jane Wilborn and Kailey Gooch each had eight kills to lead Lafayette offensively while Gooch and Maggie Tower each had seven blocks. Tower joined Brennice Kennedy adding five kills each offensively for the Lady ‘Dores.
Lafayette’s next match will be at home against Horn Lake, where they will have their Senior Night for that match instead of the last match of the season due to the unpredictable nature of COVID-19. JV starts at 5 p.m. while Varsity starts at 6 p.m.