Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe falls in first round

Leader sports editor

JONESBORO – The Beebe Lady Badgers proudly carried their 5A-Central Conference championship and No. 1 seed into the state tournament on Tuesday at Valley View High School, but were sent home quickly after a 3-0 thrashing by Batesville.

A bevy of unforced errors told the story for Beebe. They started early and never stopped, and none of the games were particularly close. The Lady Pioneers, the four seed from the powerful 5A-East, won by scores of 25-13, 25-16 and 25-15.

“It was not our day,” said Beebe coach Ashley Camp. “Nerves got to us to say the least. We were so out of sync and had so many unforced errors. That has not been characteristic of this team all year long, but it certainly showed up in this one.”

The collapse began about halfway through game one when Batesville’s Hayley Cormican took serve with the Lady Pioneers leading 10-9. She served five-straight points to put her squad up by six. Hannah Qualls got two big kills during the run and Beebe gave away two points with errors.

Camp called timeout and Beebe broke serve, but was broken right back. That brought first server Sarah Hayes back to the service line, where she reeled off four more points for a 20-11 Batesville lead.

The Lady Pioneers raced out to a big lead in game two, and led 22-10 when the Lady Badgers put together their best rally of the match. Paige Smith served Beebe to within 22-15 with Jerra Malone and Gracie Rymel picking up two kills apiece. Batesville coach Ashley Ray called timeout and Batesville immediately broke serve. Beebe broke right back on a kill by Abby Smith, but Batesville finished out the second set for the win.

The Lady Pioneers scored the first four points of game three without a single kill or ace. All four points were the result of Beebe errors. The lead grew to 8-1 before Destiny Nunez aced Batesville and got two more service points on Pioneer mistakes to make it 8-4. Batesville then scored six in a row, forcing another Beebe timeout at 14-4. The two teams then traded service breaks until Beebe finally scored a point on serve to make it 17-9. Malone got a powerful kill to pull Beebe to within 17-10, but Abby Smith’s next serve went into the net, setting off a string of uncharacteristic errors that gave Batesville an insurmountable lead.

On Batesville’s next serve, Tara Plante and Paige Smith bumped into each other and flubbed a pass. Malone hit a routine kill shot into the net on the next point. Paige Smith’s pass on the next serve floated into the air and harmlessly back down to the floor between a trio of would-be setters. A Batesville unforced error ended the rally, but Beebe returned the favor when Sarah Clark and Paige Smith let a free ball drop between them to make it 23-11.

For as bad as the state tournament game went for Beebe, Camp is still optimistic about the future of her rising program.

“We had four juniors, two seniors and a sophomore on the floor to start this match,” Camp said. “They’ve got some experience now. They’re just going to get better and we’ll be back.”