Wednesday, October 25, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe falters at state

Leader sports editor

The Beebe Lady Badgers grabbed a one seed by winning its conference, but couldn’t parlay that into a win at the Class 5A state tournament on Tuesday. Beebe lost an extremely close game one, and it got worse from there as the 5A-East No. 4 seed Nettleton beat the Lady Badgers 3-0 on Lendel Thomas Court in Harrison.

Scores of the match were 28-26, 25-17 and 25-16 for the Lady Raiders.

The 5A-East Conference is the toughest in the state at any level, but that was no consolation for Beebe coach Audra Higgins, whose Lady Badgers had already beaten the East three seed Batesville in the final match of the regular season.

“This was a tough one for me because I know how this team is capable of playing,” said Higgins. “What I saw out there today was not it. They beat us mentally. I lost one mentally early, and then it spread. It was a case where I couldn’t coach the match because I was trying to get them back mentally. We’ve got to learn that in volleyball you’re going to make mistakes. You have to get past it. Hopefully experience in more of these types of matches will help that.”

Beebe got out of the gate slowly when senior Reaven Seymore’s opening kill attempt hit the net, and Nettleton’s Emily Davis aced the Lady Badgers for a 2-0. Beebe climbed back in it and took its first lead at 8-7 on an ace by Bailey May.

The Lady Badgers led by as much as 16-13 and 19-16, but Nettleton scored four straight and took the lead when a serve rolled off Seymore’s fingertips and backwards for an ace. Beebe fought off three set points from down 24-21, but went up25-24 on a huge kill middle block by Seymore.

Nettleton’s Kayla Copeland then got a tip kill to tie it, and Madeliene Volner made it back-to-back tips for 26-25 lead.

Beebe freshman Layla Wilson got a kill to tie it and then took serve, but Volner broke with another kill and Seymore miss-timed her jump and hit into the net for a 28-26 Nettleton win.

Beebe led game two 4-2 early, but Nettleton went on a run midway through that turned an 8-7 deficit into a 14-9 lead.

The Lady Raiders only scored 24 in game two because a scorekeeper error gave them two points when Autumn O’Rourke’s tip attempt floated into the net. At that point, the score went from 17-13 to 19-13, but Beebe never got back in it anyway.

Game three went south from the very start. Nettleton rolled out to a 7-1 lead. Every point the result of Beebe unforced errors.

Beebe senior Lani Wolfe was a bright spot for Beebe. She finished with a match-high 14 kills.

The Lady Badgers end the season with a record of 17-11 and as 5A-Central Conference champions.

Nettleton improves to 17-11-1 and advances to today’s quarterfinal round against last night’s late game winner between Magnolia and Alma.