They opened against third-ranked Alexandria, and if they somehow won that match, second-ranked Jacksonville was waiting in the wings.
But, as they say, when it rains it pours.
Last week, senior defensive specialist Kristen Abney was involved in an automobile accident. She had just gotten released from the doctor in time to play Monday night, but head coach Amy Barnes said she missed all of practice.
Abney and the Lady Warriors turned in an admirable effort, but they fell short against Alexandria in three games (15-25, 24-26, 12-25) to bring an end to their season.
Host Jacksonville (45-3) went on to claim the Area 10 title over the Lady Cubs (35-15) in four games 25-22, 25-10, 22-25, 25-18. Both teams advance to Saturday’s regional tournament.
Cherokee County’s season concludes at 26-15.
“I think we were focused and ready to play. We just couldn’t get the job done,” Barnes said. “We had a hard time putting the ball away. They got a lot of blocks, and we didn’t get many. That made a difference. We had a lot of missed serves too at key moments. We’d get some good momentum going, then we’d miss a serve.
“I hope they can walk away from this knowing they tried their best. Alexandria’s playing well, and they were just better than us tonight.”
Despite limited action, Abney went on to post 11 digs. Starting the match in place of Abney was freshman Kate Carter.
Barnes applauded both players’ efforts under difficult circumstances.
“Kristen had a pretty rough week, and that was a little downer for our team,” Barnes said. “Kate came in and played that spot, and she did a good job doing that. Kristen played that one set and had 11 digs. Despite her injury, she did a great job that one set getting balls up.”
Seniors Hannah Welsh and Audra Bradley also tallied 11 digs. Bradley added a pair of aces. Senior setter Allyson Curry contributed 19 assists, seven digs and two blocks. Senior outside hitter Candace Blanchard came away with eight kills. Sophomore middle blocker Madison Millsaps finished with five kills and two blocks.
After losing the first game, Cherokee County seemed to find its stride in game two. The Lady Warriors held a 22-20 advantage down the stretch, but Alexandria managed to tie the game at 24 before scoring the game’s final two points.
The Lady Cubs jumped out to an 18-7 advantage in the third game and cruised on to the match win.
“It’s tough,” Barnes said. “You’ve got to come ready to play (in the area). We don’t have that opportunity to have a bad game. You can’t even have a little bit of one because you’re done. That’s the downside to such a strong area. If you’re not playing your best, then your season is going to be over. We all can’t go on. Somebody’s got to lose.”
Barnes also gave her appreciation to her six seniors (Abney, Blanchard, Bradley, Curry, Welsh and middle blocker Melody Berry) for their contributions to the Lady Warrior volleyball program.
“They’ve been together since they were freshmen. I felt like a few of them were playing their best ball at the end, but tonight, it just wasn’t good enough,” Barnes said. “They’ve done a good job helping build our program. We’ve got a lot of young talent coming up who have watched them. Hopefully, they’ll learn from them and our program will be better for it.”