Everyone expected a close volleyball match when Booneville and Fountain Lake squared off in the semifinals of the 4A West district tournament in Mena last Tuesday night, and the two teams did not disappoint.
But the ending came out the wrong way for the LadyCats and their fans, as the Lady Cobras came away with the hard-fought win (25-14, 19-25, 23-25, 31-29, 15-13). That meant Booneville would have to settle for playing in the third-place match Thursday night, which they easily won over Ashdown (25-19, 25-14, 25-11).
Those results meant Booneville (22-11-1) got the third seed out of the district. In the opening round of the state tournament at Lonoke yesterday, the LadyCats played Berryville, the runner-up in the Northwest region. The winner of that match plays the survivor between Jonesboro Westside and Baptist Prep (Little Rock) today at 2 p.m.
Fountain Lake def. LadyCats (25-14, 19-25, 23-25, 31-29, 15-13)
It was all Lady Cobras in the first game, as Booneville could not get much going offensively. Jordan Weaver tried to keep the LadyCats in the game, scoring five kills, with Abby Glass getting two kills and an ace. But BHS couldn’t make any headway until game two. Vallerie Griffiths started it with an ace, Melanie Hester followed with a kill and another ace, and Glass had back-to-back blocks followed by an unreturnable serve for AshLeah Craig to make it 8-5. Fountain Lake tied it but BHS went on top 15-12 on kills by Weaver and Haley Simpson and Aleeah Blansett’s block. Craig then dumped one into the middle and Glass slammed two more spikes down, then the senior middle hitter ended the game with an ace.
Fountain Lake led early in the third set but another kill by Glass put BHS ahead. Blansett, who had struggled in the first two games, then started finding the range, getting three kills as the LadyCats took a 16-11 lead. It became 19-13 but the Lady Cobras then rallied to get within one, and they eventually went ahead 23-22. But Booneville forced a side out and two hitting errors by FL gave the LadyCats the game.
Griffiths started the fourth game with a push attack and an ace, then kills by Glass and Simpson kept BHS on top. A four-point Lady Cobra run gave them the lead, which they eventually stretched to 22-14. But Hester’s kill forced a side-out and Griffiths followed with two aces surrounding a kill by Blansett. Weaver’s kill started a three-point run, but the Lady Cobras had a game point at 24-22. Another Weaver spike coupled with a FL hitting error tied it at 24. The Lady Cobras got three game points, but a suddenly red-hot Glass got a kill each time to halt them. She then went to serve and a Simpson kill gave BHS a game point of their own at 28-27, but FL got the next point after a thrilling rally. They also scored the next point but a Hester kill tied it again. However, the Lady Cobras then got two kills in a row to force game 5.
Hester started that game with a kill and Griffiths followed with an ace, and a Weaver spike had the LadyCats up 3-1. Fountain Lake, however, tallied the next five before Glass and Simpson got kills to tie it at 7. It was also knotted at 8 and 9 before FL scored three in a row after Booneville had taken a 10-9 lead. The LadyCats got one of those back but then a serve went in the net. Weaver and Blansett got kills to keep BHS going, but at 14-13 the Lady Cobras got a tip just over a blocker to fall, ending the match.
Glass tied her career-high with 16 kills, putting her over 200 for the season, and she also had 32 digs and seven blocks. Weaver had 12 kills and Blansett added eight. Griffiths had seven aces and 21 assists while Paisley Templeman certainly did her part, coming up with 48 digs, a few of them extremely difficult. Craig did not miss a serve in 20 attempts and she came up with 22 digs; the LadyCats had 139 total digs.
LadyCats def. Ashdown (25-19, 25-14, 25-11)
The Pantherettes took the early lead as it took a bit for Booneville to get settled, but they took the lead on Jordan Weaver’s kill. Vallerie Griffiths followed that with an ace and after Ashdown tied it at 15, Weaver got a kill, Abby Glass added two and AshLeah Craig dropped an ace in. AHS still didn’t give up as Adaysia Thompson got a couple of kills to giver her team an 18-17 lead, but then Haley Simpson scored back-to-back and Glass followed with another spike for 23-18.
Glass went to work on Thompson in game two, getting two kills and teaming with Simpson on a block of the Ashdown hitter. Hester followed that with two kills and Weaver added another before Aleeah Blansett and Casey Townsend combined for a rejection. Hester then served another ace for 15-11 and another Glass block of Thompson set the stage for Maddie Herrera to run it out on her serve. Yet another kill by Glass ended the second set.
Booneville was quickly out 6-1 in the third game, and Hester’s fourth ace and a Blansett kill made it 9-2. Craig then got a five-point run on her serve for 14-4 and Herrera served two aces in a another five-point skein that made it 21-5. Glass got a kill and rejected another Thompson effort, then Blansett ended the match by dropping a tip in front of the left-side hitter.
Glass finished with 10 kills, three blocks and 12 digs; Weaver added four kills, while Hester served up four aces to go with three kills.