In their conference match against Elkins last Tuesday the Booneville LadyCats had their backs up against the wall. After Booneville had won the first two sets Elkins grabbed the next two, the second one in convincing fashion.
The LadyCat hitters had gone ice cold, the visiting fans were making a lot of noise and Booneville needed something to happen to get things settled down.
Emily Nelson made things happen.
Known more for accuracy than power on her serves, the 5-2 junior ripped five straight aces to put the volleyball momentum back in the LadyCats’ corner. This bought Booneville enough time for Abby O’Bar to find her hitting touch and the LadyCats escaped with a five-set win.
After a loss to Paris on Thursday Booneville returned, minus a number of key players, to Paris for a tournament and had a rough time in pool play. But they got it back together and were able to get a runner-up finish in the silver division as Hayley Lunsford had a very good day and several players who had been playing mainly on the JV squad stepped up and did a good job.
The final regular-season match is on Thursday at Bearcat Gym for Senior Night. Mansfield will be the opposition as the team honors seniors Stevey Harrower, Josie O’Bar and Cheyanne Glover. The district tournament is next week at West Fork.
LadyCats def. Elkins (25-18, 25-14, 20-25, 16-25, 15-12)
In an early flurry, five straight points resulted in kills for the LadyCats. Brooklyn Zarlingo struck twice, then Abby O’Bar, and finally Hayley Lunsford got two for a 10-4 lead. Lunsford would later serve two aces after a Joleigh Tate kill for 15-8. Elkins tried to claw their way back into it, but Jessica Cauthon placed one into the corner, then Katelynn Spain got a back-row kill before Lunsford tipped it over the block for the game.
The LadyCats had a 10-point run on Emily Nelson’s serve to start the second game, with Tate getting two kills and Cauthon and Zarlingo one each for 10-1. Kills from Zarlingo and Abby O’Bar made it 15-3 and a Zarlingo ace took it to 20-6. The Lady Elks then enjoyed a seven-point run but Abby O’Bar finally ended it with a kill, then Tate teamed with Josie O’Bar for a block and an Elkins error ended the game.
However, the Lady Elks began their comeback in the third game, as the LadyCats couldn’t handle hot serving from Bryn Shirley. The Lady Elks took a 16-6 lead; another Zarlingo ace started an attempted rally. Lunsford followed that with a kill, with Josie O’Bar and Tate also getting spikes and then Lunsford served an ace for 20-16. But that was as close as they got and Elkins continued to carry momentum into the fourth set, taking a 7-2 lead. Kills from Abby O’Bar and Tate preceded a Katelynn Spain ace to tie it at 10. But after another tie at 11, Elkins went on a 14-5 run to force the fifth set.
With the score 2-1, Nelson went to the serve line. Tate delivered a kill and then Nelson’s serve became untouchable. After the third ace Elkins called time but that did not faze the junior, who drilled two more before one went long. The Lady Elks came right back and in fact took an 11-10 lead, but Abby O’Bar stopped that with a kill. She followed with two more on the next two points, then Cauthon served an ace and Zarlingo ended it with a kill.
That gave her 10 for the night, the same number as Tate, and she added 12 digs as well. Tate also had four blocks, and O’Bar got eight kills and five blocks with Lunsford adding seven kills and 19 assists. But the LadyCats owed a lot to Nelson, who finished with seven aces and 17 digs on the night.
Paris def. LadyCats (25-16, 25-13, 25-3)
Booneville jumped on Paris early; Josie O’Bar started it with a kill and then Emily Nelson was at it again, serving consecutive aces before Brooklyn Zarlingo got a kill. The 5-1 junior followed with a second kill but she landed wrong and was forced to leave the game, with Paisley Vickers taking her place. The injury rendered Zarlingo unavailable for the Paris tournament two days later. Joleigh Tate followed that kill with an ace for 9-4 and the LadyCats maintained the lead until Paris caught up to tie it at 12. At that point, Jacee Hart and the Lady Eagles got hot and finished the game on a 13-4 run.
Paris was up 8-3 in the second game but Booneville soon was back in it thanks to kills by Jessica Cauthon and Hayley Lunsford. A second Lunsford attack put the sophomore on the serve line where she got two aces to get the LadyCats within four. But Paris ran out that game and after a Josie O’Bar block tied the third game at 1, the Lady Eagles became dominant and went on a 24-2 blitz the rest of the way. Booneville only managed seven kills on the night.
With five players including four starters unavailable, it was a depleted Booneville team that took the court against Mena in the first game of pool play. It started off well, with Hayley Lunsford getting things underway with a kill and Joleigh Tate followed with another. Tate then teamed with Raven McCubbin for a block and McCubbin would also swat one down on her own, with Jessica Cauthon following with an ace to get Booneville within 9-7. But Mena then ran off several points in a row before Lunsford got two kills and Katelynn Spain another. But Mena eased to the win and despite three Abby O’Bar kills, quickly took charge in the second game. During an 11-0 Mena run, the LadyCats lost another player when Brylee Washburn stepped on the foot of a MHS player while blocking and went down. She would not return for the rest of the tournament.
Batesville Southside got off to a 7-0 start against the LadyCats in the second game, but that was countered when Lunsford served three aces and forced the Southerners to call time. Cauthon and Tate followed with kills but Southside then hit the LadyCats with a 14-2 run to end the first game. It was even worse in game two as Southside scored the first 10 points. Cauthon provided a little offense with an ace and a kill and Hayley Roberts, in for Washburn, also got a kill, but the damage was done.
Booneville came out rejuvenated against Pulaski Academy and with Cauthon hitting the middle with two kills, they took an early lead. But PA then made a 11-3 run and closed out the first game. Lunsford had two kills and Cauthon another, with Roberts providing a block to tie the second game at 7. But a 10-point Bruin run ended the LadyCats’ chances for a split.
The LadyCats drew Paris’ JV team to start silver bracket play and Spain started it with a back-row attack. Lunsford followed with a dump into the middle and Tate served two aces for 7-2. An ace from Cauthon and a Roberts kill kept up the momentum. Lunsford hit with two more drop shots on the way to a 20-8 lead. The young Lady Eagles made a five-point flurry, but a hitting error stopped that and Tate followed with an ace and after a side-out, O’Bar, Lunsford and Roberts all got kills before Cauthon ended the game with an ace.
Lunsford dropped in another tip to start game two and ended her serving run with another for 9-0. In between, McCubbin got a kill and teamed with Tate for a block. Halee Villarreal then scored with a back-row attack, Lunsford had two more dumps and Roberts rejected a Paris kill attempt. That made it 15-5 and a four-point run on Spain’s serve enabled Coach Janice West to insert JJ Cobb and Mirana Buckner into the game. Emily Nelson served two aces and Spain ended the 25-15, 25-9 win with yet another back-row kill. Lunsford finished with nine kills and Roberts added three.
The LadyCats faced Mayflower in the finals and the Lady Eagles jumped out to a big lead at 16-6. They still led 20-9 when Booneville kicked it up a notch starting with two Lunsford aces and yet another drop shot by the sophomore, who was also running around making digs off MHS tip and hit attempts. Cauthon also had a kill and Booneville closed the gap all the way to three on an all-Hayley block as Lunsford and Roberts combined, but the Lady Eagles got the last point.
Mayflower had another early run, this time of 8 points, to counter kills by Cauthon and O’Bar and a McCubbin ace. That made it 13-7; Spain got a kill and Nelson an ace to start a comeback. McCubbin got a kill and Lunsford added two but still MHS led 18-14. Kills by Roberts and Tate got Booneville within 22-21 and Tate made a block and Cauthon a kill to keep BHS in the game as Lunsford, Spain and Nelson were saving everything in sight. But finally the LadyCats could not track down a ball hit into the middle.
Lunsford had 20 kills and 46 digs in the tournament, digging at 77% while also making 18 assists. Roberts, who had played only one varsity set before the tournament, made a good account of herself. Nelson and Cauthon did not miss any serves and Lunsford had only one error, while Tate and O’Bar helped Roberts with blocking on the front row.