Lady Cougars finish season runner-up, look ahead to next year

Published 3:24 pm Saturday, October 7, 2023

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The Grace Christian Academy Lady Cougars fell to Westminster Christian Academy 3-1 in the GIAA State Championship match. The Lady Cougars finish the season as state runners-up with an overall record of 22-10.

“The first thing is still, I’m proud,” said Lady Cougars head coach Kelsey Harrell. “At the end of the day, win or lose, being runner up, that’s still a pretty big accomplishment. Nobody else in the state can say that they’re runner-up except for us.”

The title match was back and forth to begin. Westminster won the first set, and the Lady Cougars responded with a win in the second set. The Lady Cougars lost sets three and four, partly due to an oppressive Lady Lions offense, according to Harrell.

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“It has been a long time since we played a team that’s got good left-side, middle, and right-side hitters,” Harrel said. “I knew that, at the end of the day, that was going to be a very vulnerable spot, playing a team that has three hitters basically on the front row at all times.”

The Lady Cougars didn’t get the outcome they wanted when the final whistle blew, but Harrell said she was impressed by how much the team grew through the season.

“They’ve really accomplished so much,” Harrell said. “Having a libero that’s literally a freshman. Starting, more or less, three sophomores that, a couple of them last year, had pretty big roles, but this year, all three of them were completely needed. And then the juniors. Five of them and all five of them were used hard core… I’m still so proud of them.”

The Lady Cougars enter the offseason knowing they will not lose any players to graduation for next year’s team. Harrell said she hopes to be in this same situation next year but with the championship trophy. 

“It starts today,” Harrell said. “The big thing is not wallowing in the pity of [losing the championship]… but instead letting that drive you so that you’re not in this position for next year.”