By Bill McCaughey
For The Fort Bend Star
The Ridge Point volleyball team, with two seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and six freshmen, advanced to the Region 3 semi-finals before losing to George Ranch 3-2 last Friday night.
The Panthers finished second in District 20-6A with an 11-3 record, and a 29-19 overall record. In the regional tournament, Ridge Point beat Cinco Ranch,3-0, Cypress Falls, 3-2, and Katy, 3-1, before being eliminated by George Ranch.
After the defeat, Panthers Coach Lori McLaughlin described their season.
“We had an intense season this year. We had some great victories and battles against some top schools in the state, and our tournament season was long and intense. We suffered some injuries that affected us being 100 percent off and on this season. We just tried to stay healthy and continue to grow our level of play since we were competing in the 6A bracket for the first time.”
“All season, our team was led by sophomore Skylar Fields and junior Kenedi Rutherford, both outside hitters. Our libero, Sydni Leonard, a senior, was a key factor in our success in defense and keeping us in our system. Our setters Camryn Higginbotham, a junior, and Reagan Rutherford, a freshman, were a dynamic duo in keeping our offense going. Reagan was also a key to our offense and defense at the net as well.
“Sophomore Kennedy Muckelroy came back from a long injury that kept her out most of the season, bringing a lot of power to our offense. Senior Lauryn Ogle and freshmen Claire Jeter and Nia McCardell also contributed in the middle and were very versatile with their defense and offense ability.
“Even though we are a super young team, we have a lot of talent, and these girls really enjoy playing with each other. We really had a lot of great talent on the court and on the bench,” she said.
For the season, Skylar Fields led the team in kills with 395 followed by Kenedi Rutherford with 315 and Reagan Rutherford with 232. Claire Jeter led the team in blocks with 106 and Lauryn Ogle had 90. Sydni Leonard had the most digs with 536, followed by Kenedi Rutherford with 415 and Reagan Rutherford with 398.
When asked about their playoff run, McLaughlin said, “We did have a great run, and I could not be more proud. I knew we had a great opportunity to be successful if we set the bar high to get us to where we are today. We have been training for this for a few years knowing that the reality of us moving up to 6A was going to happen. That is why we built our pre-district schedule like we did. Also, transitioning this year to a competitive 6A district helped in our growth as well. I am very proud of what we have accomplished this year being as young as we were. We now have a very good idea what to expect and what it takes to be a successful program for years to come. We will for sure take our experience this year and build from it.”
As for next year, McLaughlin said,” This is an amazing group of girls that genuinely love the game and each other. We will only grow stronger from this point on. It was a great pleasure to lead these girls this season. I will miss our seniors terribly. Lauryn (Ogle) and Sydni (Leonard) will leave behind a legacy that not everyone will understand unless you were part of our family. For that, I am extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to coach these two their entire high school careers.”