Three Lady Pioneers earned all-district distinction last week after the team saw its season end in the opening round of the District 6AAA tournament.
Senior Beth Vaughn and junior Samantha Jennings were each named to the second team All-District 6AAA list, while freshman Mia Hobbs was recognized as one of the top newcomers in the district.
All three saw action in Monday’s straight-set loss to White County. The Lady Pioneers, who finished the season 15-17, lost 25-11, 25-13 and 25-17 to the Warriorettes.
“White County jumped out with all the momentum and heart. We played with no energy or desire. The girls didn’t come to play,” said coach Kelly Clayborne.
The loss was especially frustrating considering the Lady Pioneers closed the regular season with three straight victories. Closing the season on a good note gave Clayborne hope in the opening round of the tournament, especially against an opponent the team had beaten earlier this season.
Instead, it was a disappointing end to her first season at the helm of the Lady Pioneers.
“The season didn’t end how I wanted. Hopefully we can take the positives from this year and continue to improve.”
Jennings is a good start to building back the program. The big-hitting junior led the team in every category at the net, including in its final game. Jennings had 10 kills and three blocks against White County, again showing how she’s one of the most feared net presences in the conference.
“Sam had a good season – she led us in kills and blocks. She is improving more and more each year,” said Clayborne.
She’ll be losing her running mate next year though.
Vaughn has been a consistent contributor the last three years, always helping the team wherever she’s needed most. Her competitiveness may be the hardest thing to replace though.
“Beth gave it her all every match and had a good senior year,” said Clayborne.
While Hobbs wasn’t able to break into the starting lineup most of the season, the freshman will undoubtedly be a big part of the rotation going forward. She’ll hope to usher in a youth movement for a team which started two sophomores this season and had two freshmen – Hobbs and Jessie Young – who had their moments in reserve roles.
“Mia is going to have a great high school career. She has great work ethic and a desire to get better,” said Clayborne. “I have seen great improvement in her game this year. She is already a positive leader on and off the court.”
Hobbs should add to a group which will bring back Jennings - now a three-time, all-district honoree – and full-time starters Sadie Simmons, Danika Reno and Madison Hollis. Mea Starkey and Marli McBride, who platooned this year, will also return next season.