Tuesday, October 27, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe girls advance to round two

Leader sportswriter

JONESBORO – The Beebe High School volleyball team made school history Tuesday by winning its first ever state tournament match with a 3-1 win over Greenbrier in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament.

The Lady Badgers won the first-round match over the Lady Panthers by scores of 25-18, 21-25, 25-16 and 25-17.

“It’s great,” said Beebe coach Ashley Camp. “It’s awesome because I’ve had some of these girls for five years. To watch them grow up in the program and continue to improve on and off the court, it’s just exciting to watch. I’m proud of them for sure.

“They’ve won conference their last two years. This group is a special group to begin with, but to win one in the state tournament just adds to it.”

The first game was tight in the early going, but Beebe, the No. 1 seed from the Central, began to separate itself from Greenbrier, the No. 4 seed from the West, near the midway point of that first set.

Beebe took a 10-8 lead on a kill by senior Jerra Malone, and later pushed that lead to 18-11 on an ace serve by fellow senior Sarah Clark. The Lady Badgers’ largest lead of game one was at nine, with the score 21-12.

Greenbrier closed the gap to 22-17, but Beebe senior Gracie Rymel got a kill on the next volley to push the lead to six. The Lady Panthers scored the next point, but Beebe scored the next two to end game one, with the final point coming on a Lani Wolfe kill.

Greenbrier led for almost all of game two. The Lady Panthers held their largest lead of that game at 17-8, and led 21-13 before Beebe made its comeback attempt.

The Lady Badgers closed the gap to 24-21, with Beebe’s final point coming on a Malone kill. Greenbrier’s Katherine Jeane scored the final point of that game on a well-placed two-handed tip that found an open spot in the middle of the back court on Beebe’s side of the net.

Beebe regrouped and took command in game three, jumping out to a 10-5 lead and later pushing that lead to 20-12 on a kill from the corner of the net by Malone. Greenbrier scored the next two points to cut its deficit to six, with the score 20-14, but Beebe scored again on another Rymel kill, making it 21-14.

Greenbrier scored the next point before Malone added another kill to make it 22-15. Malone then went to the service line and served the next two points, the second coming on an ace.

Malone’s ace made it 24-15. Greenbrier scored again before Beebe ended game three on a kill by Wolfe. Clark picked up the assist on that play and Malone got a crucial dig early in the volley to keep the ball in play.

Beebe jumped out to a 7-1 lead in game four before Greenbrier came back and tied it up at 12-12. Beebe scored the next point, though, and led the rest of the way. The Lady Badgers’ lead grew to 23-15 on an ace by Abby Smith.

Greenbrier added the next two points before Malone scored match point with a kill from the corner of the net. Malone’s clutch kill gave Beebe serving rights and senior Tori Lovelady served an ace to end the game and match in the Lady Badgers’ favor.

Malone led all players with 19 kills. She also had three aces and eight digs.

Senior libero Paige Smith had a match-high 20 digs. Clark had four aces and easily the match high in assists with 40.

Abby Smith had 18 kills and a match-high six blocks. Rymel added 11 kills. Wolfe had four kills and Emma Kuykendall had three.

The Lady Badgers play old conference foe and East No. 3 seed Batesville in the quarterfinals of the state tournament at 2 p.m. today at Valley View High School.