GATLINBURG—It’s the end of the road for the Cosby High Lady Eagles’ volleyball team in 2019.
Despite a valiant effort to keep their season alive, the Lady Eagles came up short in a loss in straight sets (25-14, 25-16, 25-23) to Jellico in the District 2-A semifinals held at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School on Tuesday.
“These girls have no quit in them,” Cosby coach Patrick McLaughlin said. “That’s been their whole mantra all season long. They could’ve given up halfway through the season, but they didn’t. I hate it had to end, but I’m proud of the way these girls fought tonight.”
The loss marked the end of the turnaround Cosby (2-13) had put together in the second half of the season. After falling in straight sets in each of the first four games of the season, the team began competing at a higher level and winning sets as the season wore on.
After a string of six-straight losses, the Lady Eagles won two of their next four matchups before diving into a brutal back-half of the schedule. Nonetheless, the team showcased progression towards the end of the season before ultimately seeing their year come to an end in the district leg of the postseason.
“We’ve learned some painful lessons as a young team this year,” McLaughlin said. “But because of those lessons I anticipate us to come back stronger next season.”
Although 2019 was a rough season, complete with a change in leadership midway through the year, Cosby knows it has plenty to look forward to going into next season.
McLaughlin, who took over the program in the middle of the year, returns six of his eight players from 2019, and will inherit a new group of freshmen and hope to bring in more players that didn’t come out this season.
“The way we finished the year was a very encouraging sign,” McLaughlin said. “With so many of these girls returning, we should carry all of the lessons learned this year into next season.”
The Lady Eagles will also return young leaders in Lexie and Chesnie Barnes, who were both tabbed to the All-District 2-A team as honorable mentions at the conclusion of Tuesday’s district tourney.
“Those girls see what lies ahead,” McLaughlin said. “There’s so much potential in this team, and they want to taste success. The rest of the district better realize what’s coming next year.”
Cosby trailed for most of the first set, but still remained in contention at a 16-11 deficit midway through. Jellico proved to be too much down the stretch, though, taking the first set 25-14 to take an early 1-0 lead in the match.
The Lady Eagles fell behind early in the second set, giving up four unanswered to start off. However, they fought back to take a 10-9 lead and appeared to be building momentum.
Jellico would reclaim any advantage the Lady Eagles had, though, using a 10-1 run to take a 19-11 lead late. The Lady Blue Devils would go on to win the set 25-16, taking a 2-0 lead into what would be the final set of the night.
Cosby and Jellico traded off the lead through the game’s first 22 points, before the Lady Blue Devils broke an 11-11 tie to take a 20-11 lead. Jellico pushed its advantage to 24-13, needing one more point to take the match.
The Lady Eagles wouldn’t relent, though, scoring 10 unanswered to keep their hopes of extending the season alive, but after getting within one point of the lead Jellico was able to pickup the final point for a 25-23 set win, and take the 3-0 victory to end Cosby’s season.
“We were out of sync most of the night,” McLaughlin said. “Our communication was off, and you have to have communication in order to be successful in this sport. We beat ourselves, tonight.”