After their win over Lincoln last Monday, the LadyCat volleyball team was one triumph away from a return to the 3A State tournament. Standing in their way what is the same Mansfield team that had defeated them last week to force them to play the preliminary game.

The first game was tied throughout with Mansfield coming out on top, but the LadyCats then ran out of answers for the Red Tigers attack and thus had their season ended.

If there is a bright side to this, it is that 14 players who went through this season are anticipated to return in 2020. Eleven of them got at least one start this season and this year’s experience will do them a lot of good.

Brooklyn Zarlingo, Stevey Harrower and Brylee Washburn continued to be sidelined by injuries and did not play in either match, but Alivia Yeakley was able to return in the Lincoln match.

LadyCats def. Lincoln (25-11, 25-20, 16-25, 25-16)

Hayley Roberts couldn’t have started out any hotter than she did against the Lady Wolves. She was personally responsible for seven of the first 10 points of the match with four kills and three blocks. Hayley Lunsford followed with three straight aces and it was quickly 13-0. Another Roberts block made it 15-5 and Raven McCubbin and Jessica Cauthon followed that with kills. McCubbin got another kill which sent her to the serve line where she got an ace. Josie O’Bar then got a kill and Booneville ran out the rest of the game.

Lunsford and Emily Nelson had aces early in the second game to which were added kills by Lunsford and Roberts. Later, Alivia Yeakley marked her return to action with a kill and Lunsford followed with another to make it 13-7. Yet another Lunsford point was followed by Katelynn Spain’s ace for 18-11. LHS tried to make a stand, getting within 2, but kills by Roberts and McCubbin restored order and BHS finished it off.

The LadyCats couldn’t hold serve early in the third game, resulting in a stunning 21-7 Lincoln lead. It became 24-9 before Cauthon tried to lead Booneville back on her serve. She served three aces and Lincoln made three errors, but her seventh serve was in the net. Booneville started off better in the fourth game as kills from Cauthon and McCubbin and a Roberts ace helped make it 8-5. Still Lincoln would not go away, staying within three or four points until Lunsford made a kill which sent Spain back to serve. She ran out the match, with the help of a Lunsford block and consecutive Roberts kills.

Roberts finished with 10 kills and six blocks while Lunsford added nine kills. McCubbin fired in six kills and four aces, while Spain made 23 digs.

Mansfield def. LadyCats (25-22, 25-10, 25-10)

Mansfield was out front early despite two Joleigh Tate kills and led 8-3 when Abby O’Bar went to work. The sophomore had two kills, teamed with Hayley Lunsford on a block then set Lunsford for a kill to get the LadyCats within one. A Tate kill knotted the score at 10 but the Red Tigers ran off the next five. A pair of Raven McCubbin kills moved BHS closer at 16-14 but the teams then traded points eight times with Tate accounting for two blocks and a kill during that time. Mansfield eventually won when a Booneville hit was long.

MHS was quickly up 10-2 in the second game; Abby O’Bar tried to move the LadyCats closer with a kill and an ace but the only offense BHS got after that was a kill by Lunsford. Lunsford and Jessica Cauthon had kills early in the third game and Tate swatted down another Red Tiger spike, but that was met by a 19-4 Mansfield run that effectively ended all resistance. There was some confusion toward the end of the match as a point had been put on the wrong side. After this was corrected, Tate extended the match with a kill but then Mansfield fired another one down to end it.

Tate finished with 5 kills and 8 blocks; Lunsford, Cauthon and Abby O’Bar each got four kills. While the LadyCats’ serving was accurate, they only had one ace and dug just 52 percent.