OCH Regional Medical Center Athlete of the Week: Cork

Laiana Cork
Staff Writer

So many thoughts and emotions went through Laiana Cork’s mind on Tuesday night when her volleyball career ended in Ty Cobb Gymnasium.

The Lady Chargers of Choctaw County dropped three-straight sets to St. Andrews after jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the match and fell just short of making it to Mississippi State for the Class I semifinals. Cork was upset from the loss of the game, but also thankful for having the opportunity to finish out her senior season.

It was just a month ago where Cork could have easily seen her life ended.

In the middle of recuperating from strep throat, Cork was driving down Highway 12 when her medicine kicked in and caused some drowsiness. With her brother in her car, Cork dozed off at the wheel and side swiped an 18-wheeler. Her life flashed before her eyes, but she made it out with just a bummed up back that kept her out of action of a game or two.

“Going through that just opened my eyes that you can’t take anything for granted,” Cork said. “Tomorrow isn’t promised. Me playing on the court is not promised, but God is good an I’m just grateful.”

Cork fought back. The senior was a driving force in helping get her team to the playoffs and win the district championship. Choctaw County took on Hickory Flat last Thursday in the first round of the Class I playoffs at home and were down to match point before senior Lizzie Thomas and Cork took over and scored four-straight points.

It was Cork that delivered the final blow with the kill to win the game.

“We didn’t want to lose and I didn’t want it to be our last game,” Cork said. “I believe in my team and I still believe in these girls. We’ve been talked to endure until the end.”

Cork had nine kills and eight digs in that win to get them to a Tuesday round two at home against St. Andrews. The Lady Saints battled back from an early 2-0 deficit against the Lady Chargers with three-straight wins to send Cork and her teammates home with a loss.

Choctaw County head coach Miranda Worrell was just proud of the effort Cork was able to make after a rough few weeks of sickness and injuries following the wreck. Cork’s bounce back inspired the whole team.

“She is just one of those kids that is going to hustle all out all the time," Worrell said. "That kind of hustle picks the other ones up. When they see her making crazy, diving plays, it inspires them to want to do it themselves. I don’t think she’s a vocal leader, but she leads through her hustle.”

The senior class can hold its head high from the final season in red and blue. The Lady Chargers finished the year 18-12 overall with a district title and were one win from the Final Four.

Worrell has been head coach for the girls for three years and was an assistant during their eighth grade year. Watching them grow has been enjoyable for her.

“They’re pretty special," Worrell said. "As long as I’ve coached them, they’ve been out there playing. They’ve learned so much. They’re a great, hard-working and talented group. I think they’re really going to go far.”

As for Cork, she’ll be afforded a basketball season to compete in as well. After being spared in her close call a month ago, she will be taking advantage of every moment she gets on and off the court.

“I’ve had a lot of adversity, but it’s just how I’m built,” Cork said. “I’ve had to rely on prayer, my coaches and my teammates and I couldn’t ask for a better group to be around. It’s been a hard season, but through all of it I wouldn’t change it for anything.”