Charleston serves as victim for home opener

Having easily handled Charleston earlier in the week, Booneville finally had their home opener last Thursday night, with their guest being Logan County rival Paris. While the LadyCats played quite well most of the match, it was the defending 3A state champions who prevailed in three straight games.

Booneville coach Robert Dean emphasized that the LadyCats (8-3, 4-2 3A/4A District 6) are still a young team, with only three players having any meaningful varsity experience prior to this season. And he mentioned that Booneville would only get better as the season progressed, whereas Paris is in top form right now.

Sophomore middle hitter/blocker Aleeah Blansett had an outstanding week, accounting for 14 kills and seven blocks in the two matches played, including six against Paris. With her having success against Paris standout Lycia Peevy, the Lady Eagles were forced to change their plan.

The LadyCats step out of conference play tomorrow when they visit Union Christian.

LadyCats def. Charleston (25-7, 25-11, 25-13)

Booneville had no trouble dispatching the second-year program; the first three points were a Vallerie Griffiths ace and two Aleeah Blansett kills. Charleston fought back within 11-7 but a side-out sent Maddie Herrera to the serve line, and there she stayed for the rest of the game. The 5-1 sophomore setter had five aces in the run as Booneville cruised.

The LadyCats had a slow start to the second game as they trailed 5-1, but another long serving run took care of that. This time Paisley Templeman racked up 12 points in a row; seven came on aces and two more on Blansett kills. Booneville turned on the power after that as Abby Glass and Haley Simpson had two kills each to get it to 22-10. Blansett added her sixth kill and Glass put away the second game with an ace.

More LadyCat force was evident in the third game as Melanie Hester started it with a kill, which was followed by two from Blansett and a Griffiths ace. Yet another spike from Blansett returned Templeman to the serve line where she promptly added two more aces. Herrera likewise served two aces and Macy Geddes and Glass each screamed a kill to make it 18-5, and coach Robert Dean started inserting JV players at that point. The power did not abate, though, as Adria Coffer notched two aces on her first two serves of the season.

Templeman finished with 10 aces and 13 digs, and did not miss a serve in 23 tries. Herrera hit her first 20 serves with seven aces before putting one in the net, while Blansett added nine kills.

Paris def. LadyCats (25-13, 25-17, 25-11)

Booneville played very well defensively in the first game, despite the score; Paris was getting their shots in by the slimmest of margins. Melanie Hester got the first Booneville point when she slammed the ball through a Paris block and it fell at the Lady Eagles’ feet. Jordan Weaver and Abby Glass also got kills and Glass then teamed with Macy Geddes to deny Ryliegh Hardwicke a kill and tie it at 6. Aleeah Blansett kept it close by slamming the door on Lycia Peevy, but Paris would score the next four before she and Geddes again denied the Paris outside hitter. Blansett followed with a kill and Weaver got another but PHS scored the last four points.

Hester had a repeat performance of her first-game start, ripping the ball through Hardwicke and Kylie Morris. With another Glass/Geddes block, the LadyCats took a 5-2 lead. But the Lady Eagles reclaimed the advantage 9-8 and followed that with a 9-point run. Booneville then turned the tables, using two Blansett blocks of Peevy and two Vallerie Griffiths aces to fashion a seven-point run of their own, making it 18-16 and forcing Paris into a time-out. At that point, Paris changed the focal point of their attack and Morris became the go-to girl; she got three kills in a game-ending 7-1 run.

For the third game in a row, Hester powered a kill through a Lady Eagle block for BHS’s first point; however Paris grabbed a five-point lead before Blansett could respond with a kill. A Geddes kill got Booneville within 8-5 but Paris then embarked on the first of two six-point runs that decided the outcome. Geddes ended the first one with a block and Blansett would tally two more kills, but the second PHS run came at the end of the game.

Blansett scored with five kills and six blocks; more important was the way her actions forced Paris to change their game plan. Hester did well with three kills, and Griffiths served up two aces—the only unreturnable serves Booneville had—and had 9 assists.