Played three matches and weekend tournament.

With a new look to the team necessitated by four would-be returnees either transferring or opting not to play, Booneville’s senior high volleyballers had mixed results through the week. After losing their opener to Atkins, the LadyCats rebounded with wins over Jessieville and Clarksville before Saturday’s Mena tournament. They struggled through most of pool play before beating Mansfield in the last game.

There was a three-way tie for third in the pool but the LadyCats lost the tiebreaker by one point, sending them to the silver bracket and a rematch with Jessieville. This time the Lady Lions were a much tougher test, but Booneville rallied to win the second game after losing the first, and then Maddie Herrera ripped off 10 straight points after a Jessieville side-out to start the third game, which Booneville went on to win 15-2.

The finals were against a very strong Mena JV team, which had won their matchup in pool play. The home side won the first game but Booneville used a long serving run to help them win game two and set up a decisive third game. After taking an early lead, though, BHS put three serves in the net and this proved to be fatal as they had to settle for runner-up.

“We’re still trying to get a lineup sorted out,” said coach Janice West. To that end, 13 of the 16 girls on the roster have already seen action so far.

The LadyCats will host Lincoln for a conference game tomorrow before Waldron pays a visit to Bearcat Gym next Tuesday. The Lady Bulldogs are an improved squad and will pose a test for the LadyCats.

Atkins def. LadyCats (25-18, 25-11, 25-17)

Booneville got out to an early lead, mainly taking advantage of Atkins errors. Keara Ross got the first kill of the season and Booneville led 7-4. They still led 13-11 after kills by Aleeah Blansett and Taylor Miller, but Atkins then went on a 9-point run to take control with Mary-Kate Brown doing much of the damage. The LadyCats could make no inroads into the AHS lead. In the second game, BHS led 3-1 but the Lady Red Devils went on a 17-5 run to take command. Midway through that game, Booneville setter Maddie Herrera pulled up with a slight injury, which did not help matters. Stevey Harrower came in and did a commendable job, but AHS had built too big a lead.

Following the script of the first two games, BHS took an early lead following an ace by Brooklyn Zarlingo and Josie O’Bar’s kill. Later, O’Bar would serve an ace, then another Blansett kill and a Ross ace put BHS up 11-10. With Zarlingo serving, another Blansett spike pushed the LadyCats back in front 15-13, but then Atkins made the decisive run, a 12-2 skein that finished the match. Blansett led Booneville with five kills, 17 digs and three blocks, and Miller added four spikes.

LadyCats def. Jessieville (25-17, 25-18, 25-22)

It was apparent that Aleeah Blansett was the hot hitter early on, as she had three early kills. Maddie Herrera, showing no ill effects, added two aces and Kelsey Mikles also got a pair of spikes, one from the back row, as the LadyCats held off a brief Jessieveille flurry at the end. In game two, Taylor Miller became a go-to hitter, as she repeatedly placed the ball where Lady Lion defenders were absent. Brooklyn Zarlingo also was effective, and in fact her kill down the line ended game two. Jessieville gave the LadyCats all they wanted in the third game, but in the end Booneville’s digging, led by Blansett, Keara Ross and Raven McCubbin, blunted the Lady Lion rallies, and a Miller kill finished things off.

Miller finished with nine kills while Blansett had eight kills, three aces and 15 digs. Herrera was 21 for 22 serving with five aces and 27 assists, while McCubbin has 12 digs in 13 tries and Ross added nine.

LadyCats def. Clarksville (25-15, 25-21, 25-16)

Aleeah Blansett got a spike for Booneville’s first point and then Maddie Herrera had three aces in five points to help make it 7-1. Blansett had a block and a kill in that sequence and even though they could not hold serve for a time, they kept doing the same to the Lady Panthers. At 19-14, Booneville made the decisive run as Kelsey Mikles served an ace and Keara Ross scored with two kills; another Mikles ace brought it to game point.

Clarksville didn’t make it easy in game two as they for the most part kept the LadyCats from holding serve. A Blansett ace and a Ross kill finally put the LadyCats on track and Emily Nelson also got an ace for 16-10. The Lady Panthers got within two but kills by Blansett and Zarlingo kept CHS from gaining further momentum and two spikes by Miller closed it out. In the third game, the breakthrough started when Emma Ramey, who had missed the first two games, got a kill and Kelsey Mikles added an ace. Two Herrera aces made it 14-8 and Ross added another. Following a Zarlingo kill, Mikles removed all doubt by pounding five aces in a row.

Mikles finished with eight aces; Blansett and Miller had seven kills each with Ross adding four. Herrera had 21 assists and the LadyCats served up 16 aces in all.

Mena Tournament

Pool play began as the LadyCats faced Arkadelphia and each match in pool started with a 4-4 score. After an even beginning, a Kelsey Mikles ace led to a four-point run that finished with Brooklyn Zarlingo’s kill. Emma Ramey started another run with an ace and later added two kills, with Aleeah Blansett providing a kill and a block. Two Taylor Miller kills finished it. In the second game Ramey had three kills in one sequence as Booneville seemingly had things under control at 16-10, but the Lady Badgers came back strong and used a 10-3 run to tie the score. They eventually grabbed a 23-20 lead but Zarlingo hit one down the line with Mikles adding an ace and a kill for game point. But Arkadelphia thwarted that and a Booneville hitting error meant the LadyCats had to settle for a tie. Ramey had seven kills and Zarlingo four.

Zarlingo started the next match, against Lake Hamilton, with an ace and the first game remained close until the Lady Wolves racked up six in a row for 14-8. They eventually grabbed a 19-13 lead and despite two kills and two blocks by Blansett, Lake Hamilton took the first game. Two dumps in the middle by Maddie Herrera gave BHS some early momentum, but that was snuffed out by a five point LH run. Raven McCubbin got an ace, but the Lady Wolves, who eventually won the tournament, pulled away rapidly to a 16-9 lead and Booneville had no response.

The Mena JV team awaited in the third game and BHS started strong, with four points coming on Zarlingo’s serve including an ace. Miller and Blansett then got kills and the Booneville middle hitter also added an ace, but the Mena youngsters then ran off 10 points in a row, largely on aces. They wrapped up that game and took the lead as well in the second, but a Ramey kill and an Emily Nelson ace began the comeback. The LadyCats kept up the momentum and eventually tied it at 20 on a Blansett block. BHS eventually got it to game point, but could not close the deal. Miller had four kills with Blansett and Zarlingo adding three each.

Without a break, Booneville had to recover against an improved Mansfield team and Blansett started the match with a kill and Maddie Herrera added an ace to get things started. Four different LadyCats had kills as BHS took charge, the last coming on a Herrera tip into the middle for 15-12. Mansfield tied it but Blansett took care of that with a kill and block, and a Ross kill put the game away. Two Blansett kills started game two, and then Herrera again spread the ball around with three players getting kills in a four-point run for 13-7. Mansfield attempted a comeback but a nine-point run on Mikles’ serve, including two aces and two Zarlingo kills, stopped that. Blansett had five kills and Zarlingo four, and Booneville only missed one serve.

There was a three-way tie for third in pool with the third-place team going to gold, but Booneville lost out on the tiebreaker which sent them to the silver bracket and a rematch with Jessieville. The Lady Lions took the lead as they were successful with several shoot attacks. It was 17-9 before the LadyCats mounted a comeback. It started with a Blansett kill and two Jessieville errors, then a Miller kill sent Melissa Humble to the serve line and she got four points on her serve including two kills by Zarlingo. Still, JHS was up 23-19 before Mikles got three points on her serve and after another side-out, Ross splashed an ace for 24-24. But Jessieville got the last two points and Booneville had to rally.

This time Booneville took the early lead as an ace by Humble made it 7-4. Mikles also scored with an ace and a back-row kill and Zarlingo added another, but Jessieville would not capitulate easily and tied it at 16. But Humble then served two more aces—she had seven in the tournament—and a Mikles kill made it 20-18. Zarlingo and Blansett threw down after that, but the Lady Lions came again and were one point from victory, but put a serve in the net, and another error and a Blansett kill forced a third game. Booneville then made short work of JHS as after their serve went out, Herrera scored the next 10 on her serve, starting with her own drop shot. Blansett and Miller added kills and Herrera finished with an ace for 11-0. Two more kills took it to match point where Stevey Harrower fired an ace for the win (24-26, 26-24, 15-2). Blansett had 9 kills and Miller 7, with Herrera getting 24 assists while not missing in 20 serves, and Humble hit three aces while also having no serve errors.

The LadyCats thus rematched against the Mena JV group for the bracket championship, and the home team again took an early lead despite two kills by Mikles, Mena took an 8-5 lead. Booneville got a kill by Zarlingo, a dump by Herrera and a Mikles ace to take the lead and Harrower drilled another ace for 13-9. But Mena then got six in a row to retake the lead, and they were on top 19-16 before Humble hit the serve line and served two aces to go with a Zarlingo kill to make it 22-19. However the hosts got a six-point run to win the game.

Mena also took the early advantage in game two but Mikles once again got hot on serve, with the help of two Herrera drop shots and three kills from Ross. The run made it 13-6 and Zarlingo followed with another kill. Meanwhile, Blansett was digging like there was no tomorrow and not many got by her. Humble once again proved dangerous on serve as she started with an ace and Herrera dropped another in, and Zarlingo forced the third game with a kill down the line. Booneville took the early lead with a Blansett kill and block and yet another Herrera dump into the middle. The LadyCats remained on top through the middle part of the game, but then serving woes struck, as they put three into the net. The last of those put Mena up 13-11, and they would also score the last two for the win (25-22, 19-25, 15-11).

The two smallest players on the floor—Zarlingo and Herrera, at 5-1 each—had seven and six kills respectively while Blansett—the tallest at 6-0—made 32 digs in 36 tries, adding four kills and three blocks. Herrera also added 15 assists and Emily Nelson collected nine digs as will in a bid to become the libero.