The smallest player for the Booneville volleyball team is putting up some big numbers.
Maddie Herrera wasted little time setting the single-match assist record when, in the first game of the season at Atkins, she piled up 32 assists, beating the old record of 30 set by Vallerie Griffiths last season. And she was just getting started; by the end of the week Herrera was more than halfway to beating her own season record of 280 as the 5-1 junior racked up 153 assists in that time.
The LadyCats ripped off three regular-season wins and three more against one loss in pool play at Saturday’s Mena tournament before coming up just short against the host side in bracket play.
Booneville does not play again until hosting Charleston next Tuesday. The Lady Tigers show signs that they will no longer be a pushover as they pulled a stunning upset of Mena last week, so the LadyCats will need to be on their “A” game.
One reason Herrera is piling up big assist numbers is that she is the sole setter in Booneville’s new system; another is that she has lots of talented hitters to put those sets away. She is also prolific at getting the ball out of the net after a bad dig to keep the LadyCats in a point.
LadyCats def. Atkins (25-22, 25-21, 25-17)
The LadyCats got in trouble early as they found themselves down 11-5, in large part due to the play of Atkins’ Mary-Kate Brown. She seemed to be getting kills from every position on the floor, not to mention having a serve with a lot of heat behind it. The Lady Red Devils appeared to have the game in hand, ahead 20-12, but that is when Booneville rallied. Maddie Herrera went to the serve line and before she left it, BHS had tied the score thanks to kills by Macy Geddes, Haley Simpson and Haley Carter combined with several Atkins mistakes. Another Carter kill put Booneville on top and then she rotated to the serving position, where she promptly blasted an ace, and then Herrera set Aleeah Blansett for the game.
Booneville grabbed an early lead in the second game as a Herrera dump in the middle was followed by a Geddes ace. Carter, Simpson and Paisley Templeman all had kills to extend the lead but Atkins then got six in a row to put them in front. Following a Simpson spike, Templeman went back to serve and ran off six points, putting BHS back in command. Two Blansett kills and Carter’s kill and ace gave the LadyCats a two-set lead.
There was to be no slow start for Booneville in game 3; Carter had two kills and Simpson one for the first three points. Herrera would add another ace, as would Templeman, and Carter and Geddes got kills for an 11-5 lead. AHS attempted a rally and eventually got within 17-15, but Blansett took care of that and then Carter threw down three times in four points for 21-16. After Herrera served another ace, she set Geddes for her 31st assist of the match, breaking the record. Moments later, Carter ended the match with an emphatic spike.
Carter had 11 kills in all with Blansett and Simpson putting down seven apiece. Carter also had 17 digs and four blocks, but it was Herrera who piled up the big numbers, getting 32 assists, two aces and two dumps into the middle which count as kills.
LadyCats def. Mansfield (25-4, 25-14, 25-10)
Haley Carter was on an absolute tear in the first half of the first game. She had five kills within the first 11 points; meanwhile Haley Simpson added three and Maddie Herrera put in two aces as the LadyCats scored the first 14 points. After Mansfield finally scored, Carter and Macy Geddes each had a solo block and they combined on one as well to make the score an incredible 19-1. The first game, fittingly, ended on a block, this time by Simpson.
Aleeah Blansett started game two with an ace and Paisley Templeman and Carter followed with kills and soon it was 7-1. Later, Blansett fired off three kills surrounding an ace by Geddes to make it 20-6; Mansfield made it a bit more respectable but would not threaten as Carter slammed two more kills down.
BHS took a 7-0 lead to begin the third game with four different players getting kills while Carter also served an ace. Jordan Weaver fired her second kill of the game moments later, then followed a Simpson kill with an ace. The LadyCats went out to a 15-5 lead and Carter subsequently ripped three more kills. Booneville finished on a 6-0 run and it was all about power: three kills by Blansett, one by Simpson, and two more Weaver aces.
Carter equaled her career high with 14 kills and Blansett added 10. Herrera had 29 more assists, Weaver led a 12-ace serving attack by getting three, and Templeman made 19 digs without an error.
LadyCats def. Hackett (25-13, 25-12, 25-17)
Booneville was off to the races early in the first game as Haley Carter again had a hot start. This time, the 6-1 senior had four kills in the first seven points. Hackett hung around for a while thanks to some good blocking by Audrie Chaney, but the LadyCats eventually took control. Aleeah Blansett and Macy Geddes each fired in two kills for 12-5 and a Carter spike made it 16-8. The LadyCats put on another display of power to end the first game as Blansett had two kills, Jordan Weaver another and Carter smacked a jump serve for an ace before Geddes’ kill provided the 25th point.
Carter was at it again to start game two with two kills and she later provided a block for 7-1. When she got to the serve line she winged two aces, and then Blansett got two blocks and a kill in a 6-0 run to make it 17-5. Weaver got another run started with an ace, and Simpson finished off the game with a kill.
Two Chaney blocks staked the Lady Hornets to a short-lived lead in the third game, but she was foiled when Maddie Herrera set Paisley Templeman for a back-row kill. Herrera followed with an ace and Carter put down another spike. Hackett still led 6-5 before a five-point run gave the LadyCats the lead for good. Carter had an ace and a kill in that run but Booneville could not completely swat the pesky Lady Hornets away until Herrera returned to the serve line. She served four aces in five points with Simpson also getting a kill. That made it 18-10, and Hackett got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Carter put away 13 kills and Blansett scored with nine, with Geddes adding five. Templeman had 23 digs, while Herrera notched 28 assists.
Mansfield provided the opposition for the first round of pool play. Though the Lady Tigers played much better than in the regular-season matchup earlier in the week, in the end they were still no match for the hitting prowess of Haley Carter. She again had four kills in the first six Booneville points and added a block for 13-8 (the pool matches started with a 7-7 score). Later, Aleeah Blansett got three kills in five points enabling BHS to pull away in the first game. Carter was at it again in game two as she quickly added four more kills to a Paisley Templeman ace. Macy Geddes would provide the power to put MHS away, with two aces, a kill and a block making it 19-10. Carter finished with eight kills, and Templeman had 11 digs without a miss as Maddie Herrera got 18 assists.
But the match with Fountain Lake was a different story. With a win against Class 6A Bryant under their belt earlier in the week, the Lady Cobras were confident and pretty much shut off the Booneville attackers. The LadyCats stayed in the match with their own defense as they forced several hitting errors. What offense the LadyCats got came courtesy of Herrera, who found a home in the middle to dump the ball. The Lady Cobras won the first game 25-20 and had a late lead in the second, but Booneville rallied to knot the score at 23. The teams traded points to make it 24-24 but there was a 25-point cap so the next point won, and a BHS hitting error ended the match. Herrera was credited with three kills, and she and Jordan Weaver each had two aces.
Booneville made a quick recovery, defeating Class 6A Lake Hamilton in the next pool match. Carter and Haley Simpson rejected two straight Lady Wolves kill attempts, and Carter would also add a kill after a Herrera ace. Weaver and Blansett each scored with two kills in a later BHS 5-point run and the LadyCats took the first game 25-18. The second game was tight throughout; LH took the lead, but a Blansett block tied the score. Carter and Simpson combined on another block; LH would come back to tie it up three times, but the LadyCats scored the last three points. Carter and Blansett each had five kills, with Carter also blocking five LH kills.
A win over Jessieville would guarantee the LadyCats second place in the pool and BHS delivered. JHS hung tough for a while in the first game but Booneville put it away with a 7-2 run. Two more runs in the second game flattened the Lady Lions; first it was eight points on Templeman’s serve with Carter getting three kills and a block, and then the LadyCats finished on a 5-0 blitz as Blansett teamed with Kate FitzPatrick for a block and after a Weaver ace, swatted down another for the match. Carter got five kills, with Geddes and Blansett adding three each.
Booneville then took on Mena in bracket play and Simpson had the hot hand early, hitting on three kills. Mena, though, took the early lead at 9-5. Booneville gradually got back in the game and caught up at 18-18 when Herrera served an ace. Geddes then got a kill to give Booneville the lead. Mena got it back but two kills by Weaver and one by Carter put BHS back in front; after Mena tied it again BHS got the last three points for the win.
Booneville rode that momentum to an early lead in the second game as kills by Carter and Blansett made it 7-4. But MHS went on a 13-5 run to take a 5-point lead. Booneville came back again and got within one on a kill by Weaver and a Mena hitting error, making it 23-22. But the purple and gold couldn’t make it all the way back and a third game ensued. A slow start by BHS put them in an early 6-1 hole, and they then couldn’t hold on their serve, enabling Mena to take the win.
In addition to Herrera’s numbers, Carter racked up 65 kills and Blansett 43 during the week, with Templeman making 125 digs.