Saturday, October 25, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe seals deal, earns No. 1 seed

Leader sportswriter

The Beebe volleyball team secured its first-ever conference championship in its first year in the 5A Central on Tuesday, beating North Pulaski in the regular-season finale by scores of 25-10, 25-9 and 25-16 at the Falcons’ Nest.

Beebe, who finished the regular season with a stellar 13-1 record in conference play, won Tuesday’s first two games handily, but North Pulaski put up a tougher fight in the third game.

The Lady Falcons (13-8, 8-6), who will enter next week’s Class 5A state tournament as the No. 4 seed from the Central, scored the first seven points of the third game to lead 7-0, but the Lady Badgers, the No. 1 seed from the conference, stormed back to win the game by nine points, and as a result, win the match in straight sets.

“I’m really proud of them,” said Beebe coach Ashley Camp. “The first two games, we jumped on them early like we talked about. The third game was a disappointing start, but the finish was much better, and they know what it’s going to take.”

Beebe indeed jumped on North Pulaski early. The Lady Badgers scored the first 11 points of the first game before North Pulaski finally broke serve. Beebe’s Sarah Clark served 10 of the first 11 points, helping the Lady Badgers to the 11-0 lead.

North Pulaski answered with a 4-1 run to cut its deficit to 12-4, but Beebe soon got its lead back to double digits. Beebe pushed its lead to 20-8 with Abby Smith serving, and Smith served two more points after before the Lady Falcons broke serve.

Beebe regained serving rights the next volley on a kill by Abby Hogue. Hogue got another kill on the next serve before NP scored its final point of the match, and Hogue got the game-ending kill from the corner of the net, thanks in part to a nice set by Clark.

Beebe was even more dominant in the second game. The Lady Badgers led by as much as 23-6. North Pulaski scored the next two points before Hogue made it game point with a kill from the corner.

The Lady Falcons got their ninth and final point of the second game on the next volley, but served the next one into the net, setting the final score of game two.

Megan Lewis made up for that game-ending serve into the net in game three, as she served the first seven points of that game to give the Lady Falcons the 7-0 cushion.

Beebe responded with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 9-9. Lady Badger libero Paige Smith served points eight and nine for Beebe, and followed with four more points from the serving line before NP broke serve on a kill by Raigen Thomas.

Neiagha Thomas served the next point for the host team, cutting the Lady Falcon deficit to 13-11, but that was as close as NP would get the rest of the way.

Beebe junior back row player Destiny Nunez served the final three points of the match, with the last one coming on a corner kill by fellow junior Jerra Malone.

Malone led all players with nine kills Tuesday. She also had five digs, which was one behind Paige Smith’s match-high of six digs. Hogue finished with eight kills and Abby Smith finished with seven. Teammate Gracie Rymel added four kills, and Clark led the way with a match-high 23 assists.

Kiarra Evans led NP with four kills, while teammates Raigen Thomas and Makiyah Brown added three kills each. Neiagha Thomas led the Lady Falcons with five assists and teammate Payton Mullen led NP with four digs.

Beebe and North Pulaski will both play Tuesday in the 5A state tournament at Valley View.

The Lady Badgers will face Batesville, the No. 4 seed from the East and last year’s 5A state runner-up, at noon.

The Lady Falcons will play at 2 p.m. against the tournament hosts, who are the East No. 1 seed and last year’s Class 4A state champion.