LAUGHLIN — The Lady Cougars didn’t quite reach their goal of beating the Lady ’Stangs, but they did improve their game and made the visitors earn their wins.

Needles won in two in both matches, winning 25-23 twice and then 25-20 and 25-17 in the second match.

Laughlin slips to 4-5 in the NIAA 2A South League and 11-17 overall.

The two teams battled it out in the Cougars Den on Oct. 19. 

Needles’ Paige Murch made several hits, finding the hole in Laughlin’s defense to get the point. 

Service by both teams put the ball in play and it came down to finding the defense off guard.

Needles began to find more of a rhythm in the second match, getting more breathing room in the score. 

Fewer errors by Needles helped give the edge to the Lady Mustangs.

“I felt that this was the best game we played all season,” said Laughlin setter Samantha Sarinana. “Our heads were in it and we wanted it.”

There were still some mistakes that could’ve been avoided but it happens, she said. 

They tried their hardest and it could be felt, Sarinana said.

“We really played like a team tonight,” she said. “That was the hardest we played all season.”

Laughlin Setter Caitlyn Schelper agreed.

“I think this was probably one of the strongest games we’ve ever played as a team,” said Schelper. “We didn’t come out on top as we wanted but am glad we had this experience.”

It was clear they worked together as a team and how badly the girls wanted it for themselves, for the seniors and for the school, said Schelper.

“The crowd involvement and hearing the crowd cheering like that just pushes us to do better,” said Sarinana. “I love hearing all the chants and cheers.”

Even though they lost to Needles, their performance may be a boost for upcoming games.

“This just shows us that we can do it,” said Savannah Santillano, middle blocker.

The girls talked about how they recognize they are capable of more but they need to relax and enjoy the game.

Coach Bryan Crabtree recognized the better performance but couldn’t hide the disappointment of losing to Needles. 

“It was our goal for the season to beat Needles and to not even take one game was so frustrating,” he said.

Frustration aside, overall the two matches proved Laughlin’s abilities, he said. 

The Lady Cougars definitely improved on their serve receive, Crabtree continued.

One thing that did happen was missing a couple of serves and that made the difference in the close games, he said.

Laughlin is a nice group of girls who work hard and if they could get the mentality that they will win instead of doubting themselves then they would win even more, Crabtree said.

Getting to playoffs is a bit of a stretch now, they would have to beat Lincoln outright to have a chance, he said.

Laughlin will host Lincoln County on Thursday, Oct. 25. Junior varsity plays at 3 and 4 p.m. and varsity takes the court at 5 and 6 p.m.

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