The third set of the Silver bracket championship match between Booneville and Atkins in the Paris volleyball tournament last Saturday was begging for someone to make the big push. It had been tight throughout and the Lady Cats had a 6-5 lead after the teams had split the first two.
Senior Raylynn Scott accepted the challenge and served out the match, firing five aces and getting the benefit of three kills by her teammates as the Lady Cats took home their first tournament championship, beating Atkins 24-26, 25-23, 15-5.
"It was great to see a senior step up and take charge," said Coach Robert Dean. Scott had six aces in the match but the last five couldn’t have come at a better time as far as Booneville was concerned.
This should give the Lady Cats a measure of confidence heading into the last week of the regular season. If Booneville won over Arkadelphia last night, the Lady Cats will be the #3 seed from the 4A West Conference at the state tournament. A loss would mean that Booneville would need to beat Mena on Thursday or get help from old nemesis Waldron to gain a state berth; the Lady Bulldogs play Malvern who has a tiebreak advantage over the Lady Cats if it should come to that. There is no senior high conference tournament in the 4A West this season, though the junior high programs will have one.
The Mena match represents Senior Night where the senior members of the volleyball team will be honored before their last match at Bearcat Gym.
Booneville took Waldron to a fifth set for the first time last Thursday night but couldn’t put away the Lady Bulldogs. In that match the Lady Cats broke four records.
Paris Tournament: Pool
The Lady Cats opened with Mansfield, who dominated the first game. After Booneville forged a 3-3 tie the Lady Tigers went on a 13-4 run. But there was a sign of things to come as Hiley Sage Catlett and Raylynn Scott combined to reject two Lady Tiger spikes for points. MHS won the first game handily but faced a sterner test in game two as the Booneville defense came up big. Spikes by Taylor Bauer, Ashdon Ross and Grace Farmer kept the Lady Cats in the second game early, and Booneville grabbed a 12-11 lead as the result of another Scott/Catlett block combo. The Lady Tigers tried to put it out of sight but Booneville wouldn’t let them as Farmer got three blocks in four points—twice with Bauer, once with Ross—and the Lady Cats got a Ross kill as well. This put Booneville in front at 21-20 but they would only score one more point. Ross led the Lady Cats with five kills.
Fountain Lake was next and the Lady Cats attacked early, getting spikes from five different players. Those, combined with a Whitney Weaver shoot to the corner, gave BHS a 12-11 lead and from there the game hung on a fine balance. After a Catlett kill got it within 21-20, neither team was able to hold serve. A Scott kill tied it at 24 but FL got the next point and Booneville remained on the floor, not knowing that each game was capped at 25. An ace by Jaycie Rodatz gave the Lady Cats a lead in game two and two kills by Weaver kept it close until the Lady Cobras went on a four-point run to take control. Weaver finished with four kills and two push attacks.
The Lady Cats made a comeback against Huntsville in the final match of pool; down four points in the middle of the game, a Scott ace and a Ross kill closed the gap, then Ross served up two aces which were followed by a Catlett kill and a Weaver push for a 22-20 lead. Another Weaver kill and a Hannah McClung ace made it 24-21 but the Lady Cats had to hang on and in the end themselves benefitted from the cap. They then streaked to a 6-1 lead in the second game as Catlett started with a kill and an ace followed by a Bauer spike. It looked good for BHS until Huntsville came up with a run that turned an 11-7 deficit into a 19-15 lead. Booneville had one more run and got it to 21-19 but HHS ended up taking the contest. Catlett scored on five spikes and Bauer added four, and as fate would have it the two teams would rematch in the first round of the tournament proper.
Lady Cats def. Huntsville (15-25, 25-20, 15-13)
The Lady Eagles got an early six-point run to go on top 8-4 and stretched it out to 15-8 before a Raylynn Scott kill and Hiley Sage Catlett’s ace narrowed the gap. But Huntsville would not let BHS make any further rally. Another six-point HHS run put them up 14-9 in the second game but at that point the Lady Cats caught fire. Following a Catlett push, Ashdon Ross got a kill and Whitney Weaver served an ace in a tying five-point run. Later, two Grace Farmer kills and another by Catlett pushed it to 20-16 and two more Catlett spikes ensured a game three.
Bauer had two kills and Catlett another as Booneville broke on top, only to be caught by Huntsville. The Lady Eagles grabbed a 10-9 lead but two Farmer kills and one by Catlett set up match point which Bauer put away. Bauer and Catlett each finished with seven kills as Catlett, Ross and Hannah McClung all had 15 digs with Weaver adding 14. Booneville dug almost 77% for the match.
Lady Cats def. Atkins (24-26, 25-23, 15-5)
The Lady Red Devils, who had handed BHS an unexpected season-opening loss, took an early 12-6 lead as the Lady Cats couldn’t hold serve. The lead became 17-10 before Booneville struck back. Grace Farmer and Ashdon Ross combined on a block and Booneville continued the comeback with a four-point run by Ross on her serve to make it 21-19. A Raylynn Scott kill and an Atkins error gave Booneville a game point at 24-23 but AHS scored the next three.
Hannah McClung’s back-row kill gave BHS a 9-7 lead in the second game and two Hiley Sage Catlett spikes extended it but Atkins scored the next five in a row to retake the lead. But Booneville got three points on Scott’s serve to go back on top and after Atkins went back up two Catlett kills and a shoot by Whitney Weaver set up game point which was won on an Atkins returning error.
The Lady Cats went up in the deciding game 3-0 with a Weaver kill and a Catlett ace. However, Atkins cut the lead to 6-5 before Scott stepped up to the line. Ross got a kill on the first and third serves with an ace in between, then after a Grace Farmer putaway, Scott rifled four aces in the last five points, including one that handcuffed the Atkins libero to take the match. In addition to the six aces by Scott, Catlett ripped five kills and Ross got 16 digs in 18 tries.
Malvern def. Lady Cats (25-14, 25-15, 25-23)
The advantage for Malvern in the tiebreaker came about as a result of a rare Booneville misfire last Tuesday night. Raylynn Scott got three early kills in the first five points for the Lady Cats as they kept the first game close early, but then Lady Leopard outside hitter Akasha Westbrook took charge. She got several kills down and when Booneville tried attacking through the middle they found a wall in the form of 6-2 Molly Thornton. Malvern ran off eight in a row to take a 23-12 lead and though Scott scored with two more kills, MHS took the game.
Booneville held serve only once in the second game, that coming on an ace by Scott. Westbrook continued to be dominant outside and the Lady Leopards also took advantage of two Booneville rotation errors to easily win game two. But the third game played out a bit differently as after Malvern had grabbed an 8-4 lead, Coach Robert Dean inserted Alyssa Adair into the match. The sophomore responded with two quick kills as part of a six-point run on Scott’s serve which gave the Lady Cats the lead. Ashdon Ross later had an ace to start a three-point run to offset one by Malvern of the same length for a 16-13 lead. Hiley Sage Catlett hit for two aces to make it 22-18 and it looked as if Booneville would force a fourth game. But at 23-21, two Lady Cat hits went long, another was blocked by Thornton and a Westbrook kill ended the match.
Scott had six kills, but only one after the first game; she would add two aces, the same as Catlett. No other Lady Cat had more than two kills and the digging came in at a season low 58%.
Waldron def. Lady Cats (23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 15-25, 15-6)
Taylor Bauer and Whitney Weaver pounded the ball down for Booneville’s first two points and Bauer quickly added two more kills as the Lady Cats took early command of the first game. It was 16-7 before the Lady Bulldogs were able to hold their serve for the first time Weaver added another kill and Grace Farmer was making her presence felt at the net with two kills and two blocks. Waldron made a furious comeback but two Raylynn Scott kills at the right time held them off and Bauer finished the game with a kill.
It was Waldron who jumped to a big lead in the second game as they went up 15-4. The Lady Cats started a comeback with two more spikes by Bauer and an ace from Scott. At 18-9, Ashdon Ross got the Lady Cats within two with a seven-point run that included two kills each by Farmer and Hiley Sage Catlett. The Lady Cats also had it down to 20-18 and 21-19 but Waldron ran off the last four points of the set.
Again Waldron ran out to a big lead in the third set, this time 11-4, before the Lady Cats made a run. Jaycie Rodatz had an ace and four errors by Waldron on her serve cut the lead to two. Catlett then started getting hot with three kills to keep BHS in it. The last one pulled the Lady Cats within 16-13 but Waldron scored the next three and was content to trade points with Booneville the rest of the game.
Power led the Lady Cats to the first five points of game four as Catlett and Weaver got kills to start it, then Scott added two kills and a block before the Lady Bulldogs scored. Later, Rodatz would run another seven points off on her serve, helped by kills by Catlett and Hannah McClung, who would follow that up with consecutive ace serves. That made it 24-14 and a Catlett spike—she had four in that game alone—forced the decisive set. But Waldron was not to be denied as they ran off the first four points, then six more to make it 10-2. The Lady Cats were unable to recover from that early blitz.
Catlett had her second volleyball triple-double of the season as she had 10 kills, 20 digs and 18 assists. Bauer added nine kills and Farmer eight. Rodatz had a great night setting up the spikers with 23 assists for a new school mark. Weaver hit six kills and had 27 digs while McClung had 30 digs and Ross 27 more, all part of a record 133 for the Lady Cats. They also set records for kills (44) and assists (45) in a match.