Booneville’s senior high volleyball team has been practicing up to their state tournament game this past week. Some teams such as Mena and Waldron had a game scheduled, and the Northwest Arkansas teams held their conference tournament last week, but the Lady Cats had no such luxury.
And that seemed to be fine with the team, who used the opportunity to fine-tune their teamwork and get a lot of drill work in for an opponent who was unknown to them until Thursday, when the Northwest tournament wrapped up.
The Lady Cats’ opponent will be the Pea Ridge Lady Blackhawks, the runners-up in the Northwest tournament. Pea Ridge will carry a 20-7 record into state and come off a 4-game loss to Berryville in the Northwest final match in which the third game was pivotal. That ended 33-31 for Berryville and perhaps PR was a little deflated by the outcome of that game.
The match took place last night at 6 p.m. with the winner likely to face Northeast power Valley View in the quarterfinals. As long as the Lady Cats are in the tournament, they will play at 6 p.m.
A lot of Pea Ridge’s attack goes through middle hitters Sara Kahle and Mikhaela Cochran. Kahle, a six-foot senior, is also a proficient blocker. What outside attack they have usually falls to Kami Parmenter.
They, however, will be hitting to a pair of Booneville sophomores who have so far combined for 991 digs this season. Hannah McClung (599 digs) is the season record holder and Ashdon Ross (392) makes up the other half of the back line. They have also made a lot of saves, many of the incredible variety.
When Booneville gets the ball on their side, they turn to six hitters who all have 70 or more kills this season. They are led by season and career record holder Hiley Sage Catlett (165 kills this season and 343 career), Taylor Bauer (113) and Whitney Weaver (88). Catlett also is a good setter, leading the team with 267 assists, and Jaycie Rodatz is not far behind at 256.
The Lady Cats are strong defensively at the net with Raylynn Scott (110 blocks), Grace Farmer (75) and Ross (55) leading the way. When it comes to serving, few are as good as the Lady Cats who serve well over 93% as a team. Two players, Weaver and Rodatz, are over 98% while Ross and McClung sport 95% accuracy.
The match shapes up to be one of the best of the first round if both teams play to their best of their capabilities as the Lady Cats—and Pea Ridge as well—look to get past the first round for the first time. Both teams lost five-set heartbreakers in last year’s state tournament.
Junior High Wrapup
The Jr. Lady Cats finished with a record of 14-9 and on the way set team records for aces, assists and kills. They also saw strong individual performances which has senior high coach Robert Dean looking with a great deal of optimism to the future.
Freshman Brittany Drawbaugh set a team record with 65 kills and classmate Abby Glass added 63 more, making them the first junior high duo to score over 60 kills each. Drawbaugh also led in assists (72) and aces (56). Mariah Reagan added 55 aces and AshLeah Craig 48.
Vallerie Griffiths, despite playing in fewer matches than Craig and Reagan, led in digs with 182. Reagan had 179 and Craig 175; Craig also served at 91 percent, including 96 percent over the last month of the season.
The season also saw several eighth-graders make an impact. Jordan Weaver proved to be an accurate server (almost 92 percent) and also had 32 assists. Haley Carter scored nine kills and Olivia Tomlin and Macy Geddes also saw significant amounts of playing time.
With these eighth-graders and several others coming from the JV matches, plus a good seventh-grade group led by Paisley Templeman coming up, Booneville looks to be a threat for next season when they move into the 3A West Conference.