With the top seed in the North division of the 4A West conferences secured long ago, the Booneville volleyballers sought their ninth straight state tournament bid when they took on Malvern in the district tournament at Fountain Lake last Monday.

The Lady Leopards did not go down easily, but in the end senior Haley Carter came up with a kill and block on the last two points for the 25-14, 25-21, 25-20 win.

Then it was a matter of seeding and with a win over Ashdown Tuesday, Booneville found themselves opposite old rivals Mena in the championship match. Booneville got off to a good start but soon Mena took control, and with BHS not holding serve or passing well they had to settle for the runner-up position.

As the #2 seed from the West, Booneville (26-6) faced off with Pocahontas (15-10), the #3 seed from the Northeast who edged Harrisburg in the third place match. The match was at Lyon College in Batesville, where the winner of that match will take on the Baptist Prep-Huntsville winner today at 2 p.m. The semifinals are also at Lyon, with the finals Saturday in Hot Springs.

LadyCats def. Malvern (25-14, 25-21, 25-20)

After a Haley Carter kill started the match, Booneville quickly took a 6-0 lead on Maddie Herrera’s serve; Carter got another kill and Macy Geddes added a pair as well. It became 10-2 before Malvern rallied to get within 11-9 but kills by Haley Simpson, Geddes and Aleeah Blansett restored order. Booneville then ran off the last seven points of the game, finished off by another Geddes kill.

Jordan Weaver had three kills early in the second game, the last of which put Booneville up 8-5. Malvern got within 10-9 but Paisley Templeman ran off eight points on her serve, including an ace and a kill. It became 20-11 after Adria Coffer put one away, but Malvern went on a run and got within one. Herrera answered with an ace, then dumped one in the middle and a Malvern error presented Booneville with the game.

Herrera served another ace to begin game three and Weaver again had two early kills. It was 9-5 after a Blansett kill, then Carter had two kills and assisted Weaver on a block. After a Herrera ace Carter threw down twice more, and it became 19-11. Malvern made one last stand and got within two but Carter spiked one and then blocked the next Malvern spike for the win.

Carter finished with 10 kills and four blocks, with Blansett and Geddes adding six kills each. Herrera had 23 assists and Templeman made 32 digs.

LadyCats def. Ashdown (25-12, 25-23, 25-18)

Three kills by Jordan Weaver early in the first game staked the LadyCats to a lead, and then she ran off five points on her serve including an ace to make it 14-4. Three Haley Carter kills followed to put the score to 22-11, and a Weaver kill finished off the game.

Ashdown took the early lead in the second game but before long the LadyCats had caught up, with a Haley Simpson kill tying it at 7. Carter added two kills and Macy Geddes another, then Carter and Weaver teamed on a block for 13-11. But the Pantherettes’ Adaysiah Thompson fired home three kills in a row and AHS had retaken the lead, which they then stretched to 18-15. Two Weaver aces and two Simpson kills took care of that, but Ashdown wasn’t going away quietly. They tied it at 21, 22 and 23, but then hit it out and Carter served an ace for the game.

Maddie Herrera got an ace early in the third game but it was Weaver with her fourth ace of the match that put Booneville on top to stay. A Carter kill made it 13-10, and Weaver’s fifth ace started a three-point run for 18-12. Geddes and Aleeah Blansett followed with kills, then Carter’s 13th kill set up match point, where Thompson hit one out to give BHS the win.

Carter finished with 13 kills and 14 digs, with Simpson adding six kills, and Weaver came up with five kills and five aces. Blansett had five kills, 14 digs and three blocks, with Herrera assisting kills 28 times and Paisley Templeman getting 20 digs.

Mena def. Booneville (25-20, 25-13, 25-18)

Haley Carter started things off with an emphatic kill and when Haley Simpson added another, BHS was up 5-1. But Mena used the hitting of freshman Gracie Lyle to go on a 9-2 run and take the lead. Booneville fought back, though, and a Carter block and a Mena error tied the score at 16. However, the red and black then scored four in a row to retake control. Two Jordan Weaver kills got BHS within 22-20 but Mena scored the last three.

Other than a Paisley Templeman ace, Booneville was unable to hold serve in the first part of the second game. Mena wasn’t doing any better, though, with the Templeman ace tying the score at 6. But MHS then hit Booneville with a five-point run which was stopped by a Macy Geddes kill. Carter also got a spike to put Booneville within two (11-9), but Mena went on a 14-4 run to win the game.

Mena also got a lead in the third game, but Aleeah Blansett served consecutive aces to tie it up at 7. A Weaver kill kept the equilibrium, and Geddes and Carter also kept the score tied. But by the time Booneville got another kill through Geddes, Mena had established a five-point lead (20-15) with Grace Wagner (15 kills) doing a lot olf the damage.. Carter and Blansett added kills late, but Mena was able ho hold Booneville off.

Carter led Booneville with seven kills, with Geddes and Weaver adding five each. The eventual downfall for Booneville was sub-par passing; after digging 78% against Ashdown, they were only able to manage 54% against Mena.