Saturday, October 04, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe ladies rout Devils

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Lady Badgers got another dominant conference win Thursday, traveling to Jacksonville and leaving with a 25-12, 25-7, 25-8 victory over the Lady Red Devils. The Lady Badgers have lost only one set in nearly a month, and maintaining focus against lesser competition has been a key for the Ashley Camp coached team.

Beebe entered Thursday’s match with spirits very high.

“They were really up for tonight’s game,” said Camp. “Staying focused and not letting our performance falter is something we’ve discussed and we’ve practiced really hard for these matches. They came in here tonight really excited, really sharp and played well.”

Beebe slowly built a 13-7 lead in game one before Paige Smith took serve and the Lady Badgers turned it into a blowout.

15 had points on serve that included a pair of kills by sophomore Abby Smith that gave the visiting team a 21-7 lead. Jacksonville managed a short rally, but the hole was too deep and Beebe won the game by 13.

That late run set the tone for the rest of the match.

The two teams traded the first four points of game two before junior Destiny Nunez reeled off five-straight service points, including two aces.

Setter Sarah Clark is Beebe’s No. 1 server, but she had an off night, missing four serves and scoring just five points on serve in the match.

But Paige Smith and Nunez picked up the slack, drawing praise from Jacksonville assistant coach Whitney Abdullah.

“No. 3 (Nunez) was really on with her service and we just couldn’t return her tonight,” Abdullah said. “We’re just trying to improve each game and give ourselves a chance to get in the playoffs. I thought we did some things tonight that we can build on and get better. Beebe just played really, really well tonight.”

Further along in game two, the Lady Badgers began to get hard-hitting Jerra Malone involved, and Jacksonville also had no answer for the powerful junior. She also served up three aces in game two that put the Lady Badgers up 19-5.

Clark took serve at 22-7 and served the game out, finishing it with an ace to the middle of the back line.

In game three, Paige Smith took serve at 5-3 and stretched it to a seven-point lead with five points and an ace. The most exciting point of the night came in game three with Beebe leading 13-4.

Beebe senior Tara Plante had just served an ace and almost another when Jacksonville libero Jessica Brown made a diving save to keep the point alive. Jacksonville could only bump the ball over, making it easy for Beebe to set up a huge hit by Malone.

This process repeated itself three times with Jacksonville digging the hits each time. Sophomore Emily Lovercheck saved the first and least forceful of the three. Senior Savannah Hughes then dug back-to-back hugely powerful Malone hits. But the Lady Devils’ inability to set up a big hit of their own eventually led to a Malone kill that Jacksonville could not get to. That made it 14-4 and Beebe finished the match on an 11-4 run. Nunez scored the last two, and closed the match with her fifth ace.

Beebe is now 8-5 overall and 8-1 in conference. Next up is their long-awaited rematch with Pulaski Academy. On Sept. 7, Beebe had a 2-0 lead and match point in game three but ended up losing 3-2. They get the chance to avenge that loss to the league-leading Lady Bruins on Tuesday in Little Rock.

Jacksonville is now 6-5 overall and 4-5 in the 5A Central. They travel to Sylvan Hills on Tuesday.

The Lady Bears also got a pair of easy wins this week to get back on track after two bad outings last week. Sylvan Hills beat Mills on the road on Tuesday and then dropped J.A. Fair with ease at home on Thursday.

The Lady Bears won both matches in three sets and did not allow more than 12 points in any of the six sets played.

They are now 8-5 overall and 7-2 in conference play. They trail Pulaski Academy by two games and Beebe by one.

North Pulaski went 1-1 this week, losing to Pulaski Academy on Tuesday and beating McClellan on Thursday. That makes the Lady Falcons 5-4 in conference play and currently tied with Jacksonville for fourth place.