Saturday, September 12, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe sweeps Bruins, Devils

Leader sports editor

The Lady Badger volleyball team staked its claim as the early favorite in the 5A-Central Conference on Thursday, traveling to Little Rock and sweeping Pulaski Academy 3-0 in a pivotal league matchup. Scores in the match were 25-23, 25-17 and 25-18, but each game arrived at those scores in different ways.

Beebe and PA entered the season as the two heavy favorites in the Central Conference after splitting their series last year and finishing as co-champions. Those matches last season were fought tooth and nail, while Thursday’s match was a bit more one-sided.

“I felt confident coming into the match,” said Beebe coach Ashley Camp. “But you never know until you take the court. I thought our service game was a big factor. We worked a lot on that and our service game tonight was pretty on-point.”

The Lady Badgers only missed a handful of serves in all three games combined, forcing the Lady Bruins to play nearly every point.

In game one, the two teams traded side-outs until Beebe took serve trailing 2-1. Kayla Green then served five-straight points for Beebe, giving the Lady Badgers a 6-2 lead before PA broke serve to make it 6-3. Beebe broke right back and scored two more points on serve for a 9-3 lead, forcing the host team to call its first timeout.

That lead increased to 20-11 before the Lady Bruins came storming back. Camp finally called a timeout leading 23-21, but it didn’t break PA’s momentum. The Lady Bruins scored two more points on tip-overs to tie the game, forcing Camp to halt the action again. A long serve ended the Lady Bruins’ streak. On the next point, a poor pass forced a running tip by PA that also led the hitter into the net, giving Beebe the game-one win.

“Holding on and winning game one was huge,” Camp said. “We’ve talked a lot about being able to overcome adversity and we came through. That doesn’t really make up for giving up a huge run when we should have put them away, so there’s still a lot we need to work on. But it was still great to see the girls pull through in a tough situation.”

Beebe setter Sarah Clark started game two with five-straight points on serve, including two aces, but PA mounted a counter rally immediately, tying the game at 9-9 just moments later.

Beebe then scored four-straight on a service break and three points by Shalen Devore, forcing a Bruin timeout. The score was 18-12 when Green served three more points in a row and forcing another timeout. Beebe’s final point was a succession of great plays, starting with a Paige Smith dig of a huge PA kill attempt that the senior libero also turned into a perfect pass to Clark. The senior setter passed the ball to hitter Jerra Malone, who drilled a back-row kill to end game two.

The Lady Badgers played catch-up for most of game three after falling behind 5-0. That was the Lady Bruins’ biggest lead of the game, but Beebe’s comeback was a slow process. The Lady Badgers still trailed 15-12 when they suddenly began to dominate. After a side out, Devore served two points, forcing PA to call timeout after a Malone kill tied the game at 15. It didn’t stop the run. The Lady Bruins hit two kill attempts long, and Beebe’s Gracie Rymel put down a kill in front of the attack line to make it 18-15 Beebe. Abby Smith followed that with a kill before PA finally broke Devore’s serve to make it 19-16. Beebe broke right back with another Rymel kill and Abby Smith followed that with a service ace for a 21-16 lead. The two teams traded side outs to 22-18 before Malone got a kill that sent her to the service line needing two points for the match.

PA was in the net after the first serve. The Bruins got the second back, but another Clark to Malone kill from the back row sealed the win for the Lady Badgers.

Malone finished with 13 kills to lead the Lady Badgers in that category. Clark finished with 17 assists, eight points on serve including three aces, and four kills, all on nifty tips into holes in the PA defense.

Green led the Lady Badgers with 11 points on serve and added three digs, and Paige Smith finished with a team-high seven digs. Abby Smith had four points, four blocks, two kills and two digs. Lani Wolfe finished with four blocks and three kills, and Rymel had three kills and a block.

On Tuesday, Beebe rolled through Jacksonville 25-11, 25-3 and 25-13. Malone had 10 kills in that match and Clark finished with four aces.

Beebe (9-2, 3-0) gets back home after two weeks away when it hosts Mills University Studies on Tuesday.