Farmington Vol­ley­ball Team Han­dles Ber­ryville In Four Sets

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - SPORTS - By Mark Humphrey

FARMINGTON — The Lady Car­di­nals never al­lowed a tal­ented Ber­ryville team to come close in two games while tak­ing a four set, 25-15, 24-26, 25-9, 25-21, con­fer­ence vic­tory Tues­day, Sept. 18.

Farmington coach Mike Howard had his team well­pre­pared for an op­po­nent re­turn­ing sev­eral play­ers from a District 4A-1 tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship a year go. In 2017, the Lady Bob­cats swept Farmington at Car­di­nal Arena, but that ap­peared an ob­scure mem­ory in the minds of the Lady Car­di­nals.

“We kind of knew some of their per­son­nel com­ing in, we knew what they like to do, what they did re­ally well; and we tried to put some pres­sure on them, ex­ploit their weak­ness and stop their strengths,” Howard said. “Our girls, I can’t say enough about them. They do so well lis­ten­ing to what I tell them to do and ex­e­cut­ing the game plan to a T. We had a lit­tle lull there in the sec­ond set where it went back and forth. We led for most of it, but there at the end it got a lit­tle tight and they (Ber­ryville) ended up win­ning 26-24; and then we pushed through the third and fourth set de­ci­sively. They played ag­gres­sive, when we play ag­gres­sive and ex­cited we play re­ally good vol­ley­ball and that was ex­cit­ing to watch.”

The Lady Car­di­nals led 8-5 in the first set when se­nior Alexis Cates col­lapsed after pound­ing a kill. Farmington had to over­come her in­jury.

“No­body wishes for that against any­body,” Howard said. “Our se­nior leader, Alexis Cates, one of our mid­dles, went down. Her knee felt a lit­tle funny. She col­lapsed so we took her into the train­ing room. Our trainer looked at her. When I came out we had our sub in. I called time-out just to set­tle the girls down be­cause I knew that emo­tion­ally that they were (con­cerned).”

The Lady Car­di­nals re­sponded to their coach and never let Ber­ryville take ad­van­tage. Howard sang praises of main­tain­ing good flow with a key player out.

“She’s a se­nior leader, she plays hard ev­ery day, and she comes to work ev­ery day in prac­tice, so I knew that they were go­ing to be wor­ried about her,” Howard said. “But we got set­tled back down there. We won that first set, and never re­ally looked back.”

Farmington led 23-9 after back-to-back aces from Brit­tany Pittman. Ber­ryville tried to sneak back into the game with libero Kelsey Smith serv­ing four-straight points, only to watch Ad­di­son Fen­ton end the rally with a big kill giv­ing the Lady Car­di­nals game one, 25-15.

Farmington bat­tled back from a 23-20 deficit to tie game-two at 24-all. Ber­ryville then scored the fi­nal two points. Tay­lor Swof­ford de­liv­ered a kill off a good set fol­lowed by a Farmington hit­ting er­ror.

With the match tied at one game apiece, the teams were trad­ing points early in game three be­fore Farmington broke away from a 7-7 tie with a 10-0 run cli­maxed by the trio of Kally Stout (dig), El­iza Ball (set) and Char­lie Holder (kill) work­ing the of­fense. Ber­ryville broke the run with Lilly Comp­ton set­ting for Maryn Jones’ kill to make it 17-8. Farmington fin­ished the game with an 8-1 run to win eas­ily, 25-9.

Farmington jumped ahead 20-12 in the fourth set, but Ber­ryville made the Lady Car­di­nals earn the win clos­ing to within, 22-19, with a 7-2 run. Farmington reached match-point on Kaylee Pu­ri­foy’s soft kill, and after two straight points by Ber­ryville, pre­vailed 25-21 on an­other Pu­ri­foy kill.

The noise fac­tor com­ing from an ex­u­ber­ant bench played into fu­el­ing Farmington’s mo­men­tum down the stretch. Howard said the Lady Car­di­nals feed off that.

“My girls, this team, for­ever and al­ways will go with the emo­tion of the bench and the peo­ple on the court,” Howard said. “If ev­ery­one’s play­ing down or be­ing up­set or be­ing quiet, we’re not go­ing to play very well, and they know that. When we get ex­cited, we start cheer­ing on our friends, peo­ple that are out there and then they sub in, sub out, the en­ergy never drops and that’s ex­cit­ing to watch and I think that the fans here in Car­di­nal Arena got a show tonight.”

MARK HUMPHREY EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

Farmington vol­ley­ball play­ers cel­e­brate an ace dur­ing a 4-set win over Ber­ryville on Sept. 18 at Car­di­nal Arena.

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