Foran High coach Julie Johnson wasn’t ready to have the season come to a close.
Johnson’s Lions had just lost a 3-1 decision at Lauralton Hall to finish the season with a 5-15 record.
In some instances, a coach would be ready to put the past behind and move forward.
Johnson didn’t want to let go.
“I’m sad to see it end,” said Johnson, whose teams have challenged for league titles and advanced deep state play during her tenure. “This is a good group. They worked hard from last summer on.”
More than any other season, Johnson switched lineups looking for the one that would carry her team forward.
“The other night (a 3-2 win over playoff-bound Daniel Hand), I ran out substitutions (allowed per game),” she said. “I looked to run in as many players as I could.”
Serve, pass, set, spike is a winning combination.
Johnson agreed that progression was hard to find.
“Yes, one time we’d get the set and have a hitting error,” she said. “Another time the pass or set would just be off. I keep thinking, ‘The next game is the one when it all comes together.’”
One thing not missing was a willingness to put team first, and that showed in the match with Lauralton.
“We played great at Daniel Hand the other night,” Johnson said. “Tonight, I think it was a little emotional being the last match for everyone. We didn’t play all that well in the first two games, and Lauralton did.
“In the third game, the girls didn’t give up and I’m very happy with that. This is a great group led by our seniors (Samantha O’Neill, Jillian Montano, Kailey Loewenberg, Makenna Prete, Britney Lynch, Megan Flanagan).”
Lauralton was led by its seniors, Theresa Piscitelli, Maddi Marrone, Juliette Donovan and Sydney O’Neill, in winning a 25-23, 25-16, 28-30, 25-18 decision.
Foran was led up front by Lynch (6 kills), Prete, Sam O’Neill, Briana Brassell, Paige Carlson and Marguerite Collette.
Montano (17 assists) led a trio of setters, along with Madison DeBiase and Isabel Messore.
Mary Grace Weissauer was the libero, with the active Tori Lanese and Loewenberg in the back row.
Piscitelli had four service winners, including two of the Crusaders’ four aces in the 25-23 first set win. Lanese had seven service points for the Lions, three coming on aces.
A sophomore, Lanese took serve down 23-17 and led Foran to a 23-all-tie, before Piscitelli had a spike for a side out and Marrone got the winner.
In the second set, Lauralton led 13-7 after one service rotation.
Syd O’Neill then had five winners, three coming on aces, to extend the LH lead to 20-9.
The Crusaders had a 5-2 advantage in the third set when Sam O’Neill turned the game around.
She gave the Lions a 7-5 lead with five consecutive winners from the stripe, as Weissauer and Lanese kept points alive.
The action was non-stop, with one stellar playing following another.
Lauralton looked to close it out when Caroline Fabrizio had four winners, two of them aces, to take the score to 24-20.
Foran got the serve back and Montano (5 aces) kept the match alive with four winners to bring the Lions to set point at 25-24.
Each team took a one-point lead, only to give back the hammer over the next three trips to the service line.
Prete gave Foran a 30-28 win with an ace and a Crusader hitting error.
The energy carried over to the first service rotation in game four. Then LH pulled away to claim the victory.