Seniors shine in last regular season game


Shelby Foster

Three members of the Mill smiling after a win in a best-of-five match against Westlake. They beat the Westlake Lions 25-7 in all three games. “I love being with everyone and seeing everyone grow and develop as a team,” senior Lauren Ratinaud said. “When we work together and when we talk, we’re such a good team and everyone plays so well.”

Bekah Algaze, Staff Writer

The Starr’s Mill volleyball team wrapped up their regular season last Thursday, defeating the Westlake High School Lions in all three games in a best-of-five match.

“We’ve played a lot of tournaments this season which has been good for the momentum of the team,” head coach Jason Flowers said. “ I think we’ll be better off because we’ve done it multiple times, not just once or twice.”

Shelby Foster
Lady Panthers huddle to talk about the game plan and encourage one another. “The team’s always got your back,” junior Kayla Sloan said. “Even when you do bad, they pick you up, and even when you do amazing, they’re still there for you.”

Right from the start of game one, the Mill was working together and communicating in order to prevent the Lions from scoring. Whenever one of the players would score a point, they were met with encouragement from the other players.  Most of the points scored by the Mill were due to a lack of communication from Westlake. Short rallies between the two teams caused the Lady

Panthers to quickly dominate the Lady Lions 25-7.

Before the start of game two, the Lady Panthers motivated each other in a team huddle, encouraging one another. Sophomore server Ashlyn Mercure helped the team score six points in a row before the ball was turned over to Westlake. Most of her serves left the rest of the team with little to do. Westlake struggled to keep the ball in the air, and they only scored two points before Starr’s Mill was in control of the ball. Forceful spiking from senior Lauren Ratinaud helped the Lady Panthers win their second game with a final score of 25-7.

The first part of game three suggested a more promising game for Westlake.  They scored the first point of the game, but before they could score more points, the ball was turned over to Starr’s Mill. When the ball was turned over Mercure was able to score a few points for the Lady Panthers, before Westlake took control of the ball again. The Lions were able to score a few more points, but with every serve, they were met with the Mill working together to return the ball over the net. A serve from Westlake gone out of bounds helped Starr’s Mill gain its final point for the third win of the night with another final score of  25-7.

“It was a really easy win, but we don’t take those for granted,” junior Kayla Sloan said.  “As we’re going into state and regional playoffs, we’re trying to build up the team bonding back into the element.”

Festivities were far from over after the game. Being the last game of the regular season, it is traditional for the team to honor the seniors. This year, the volleyball team honored three seniors: Megan Lee, Kaylee Leachman, and Lauren Ratinaud.  Before senior night, all the seniors have to answer questions about themselves. These questions are announced during a ceremony after the game. The ceremony resembled homecoming night, where each of the seniors wore a sash, and their parents walked them across the gym, as a teacher read all their answers to their questions and their accomplishments aloud to everyone. The other members of the team, who were lined up, gave the seniors flowers and other gifts.

“Senior leadership has been key to the season,” Flowers said. “They’re the reason we’re doing as well as we are. Whether it’s playing on the court or encouragement off the court or their intensity at practice.”  

The Lady Panthers started the region tournament this evening with a 2-0 win over Jonesboro. Due to Hurricane Michael, the rest of this evening’s games have been moved to Friday night.  The Mill (27-14, 5-1) will face Whitewater in round two of the 3-AAAAA tournament, a team they already defeated 2-0 earlier in the year. A win against Whitewater will likely set up a region championship match up versus McIntosh.