Lady ’Hawks head to State Tour­ney

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MARK HUMPHREY Staff writer

The Lady Black­hawk vol­ley­ball team boarded the bus Tues­day morn­ing to travel to Mena for the state tour­na­ment. Coached by Jes­sica Woods and Rudy Sanchez, the Lady ’Hawks fin­ished as the third seed, pit­ting them against Brook­land, No. 2 seed from the North­east, for the 7 p.m. Tues­day game in Mena in the State 4A vol­ley­ball tour­na­ment.

Tour­na­ment host Pea Ridge gave Farm­ing­ton few open­ings to set its of­fense up as the Lady Black­hawks swept the con­so­la­tion match, 25-10, 25-22, 26-24, Thurs­day.

“Our team has re­ally worked on fo­cus­ing for an en­tire game,” Jes­sica Woods, Lady Black­hawks coach, said. “We knew that we wanted to close the sea­son in our home gym with a win. Hav­ing six se­niors, they wanted their last home game to fin­ish on top. It just hap­pened to be the last game against Farm­ing­ton.”

The Oct. 18, 2018, lop­sided match wrapped up Dis­trict 4A-1 com­pe­ti­tion for both teams, which will ad­vance to the State 4A tour­na­ment along with tour­na­ment cham­pion, Har­ri­son, which swept de­fend­ing state cham­pion Shiloh Chris­tian, 2624, 25-18, 25-13, in the fi­nals. Pea Ridge re­cov­ered rapidly af­ter blow­ing a 2-0 lead and los­ing to Har­ri­son, 25-16, 25-10, 18-25, 22-25, 15-8, in a Tues­day, Oct. 16, semi­fi­nal.

Pea Ridge jumped out to a 9-0 lead in game one, which set the tone for the match. Pea Ridge se­nior Madi­son Mc­quire served sev­eral aces and gave Farm­ing­ton fits through­out the match.

“We came out slow. We nor­mally do that. I don’t know why,” said Farm­ing­ton coach Mike Howard. “I talked to the girls about it. They came out slow and Pea Ridge is too good of a team to come out slow. They make you pay for it.”

Farm­ing­ton’s in­abil­ity to put the of­fense to­gether made points hard to come by. Pea Ridge ex­e­cuted fun­da­men­tal vol­ley­ball nearly to per­fec­tion at times, keep­ing Farm­ing­ton off-bal­ance and tak­ing the first set, 25-10.

“They did re­ally well on servere­ceive and on de­fense,” Howard said. “They forced us into some shots that we re­ally don’t like hit­ting. They turned those shots into of­fense. When we did get kills, they didn’t get their head down. They played kind of up, played for the next point all the time.”

Farm­ing­ton led 5-0 in the se­cond set and 18-16, but com­ing out of a time-out Pea Ridge got kills from Cassy Porter and then two in a row by Josey Gold­berg. Ad­di­son Fen­ton’s kill tied the game at 21-21. Pea Ridge scored twice on tip kills and Gold­berg ended the set with a kill with the score, 25-22, in fa­vor of the Lady Black­hawks.

“On our end, we let a cou­ple of their at­tacks even though we were get­ting un­der them and get­ting them back over, we let their mo­men­tum kind of kill ours, which isn’t like us. We know that we play with mo­men­tum bet­ter from be­hind,” Howard said.

The third set was the clos­est. Farm­ing­ton be­gan well with aces by Ad­dyson Cas­sell and Brit­tany Pittman, which cou­pled with Kaylee Pu­ri­foy’s kill and an­other ace by Lovell prompted a Pea Ridge time-out with the Lady Car­di­nals lead­ing 8-3. Farm­ing­ton ex­tended the mar­gin to 12-5 on Kally Stout’s kill; and 17-9 fol­low­ing back-to-back aces from Pittman.

At that junc­ture the tide turned and Pea Ridge be­gan to creep back into the game. An 11-3 run

drew the Lady Black­hawks even at 20-20. The score was tied twice more. Porter’s kill pos­tured Mcguire to serve. Farm­ing­ton couldn’t get a se­cond hit and Pea Ridge reached game-point and match­point, at 24-23. Pittman’s block-kill kept the Lady Car­di­nals alive, but a serve hit the net and bounced back­wards re­peat­ing the sce­nario.

This time Farm­ing­ton couldn’t dodge the bul­let when Gold­berg drove the fi­nal point home with a kill and Pea Ridge won 26-24 to claim third place.

“Farm­ing­ton is an ex­tremely ath­letic team; my girls knew they had to min­i­mize er­rors to win that game,” Woods said.

Pea Ridge fin­ished as the third seed, which pit­ted the Lady Black­hawks against Brook­land, No. 2 seed from the North­east on Tues­day at 7 p.m. with Mena host­ing the State 4A vol­ley­ball tour­na­ment.

TIMES pho­to­graph by An­nette Beard

Staff pho­to­graph by Mark Humphrey

Lady Black­hawk se­nior Cassy Porter smashes a hit over the net dur­ing the con­so­la­tion match with the Farm­ing­ton Lady Car­di­nals at 4A-1 Dis­trict tour­na­ment hosted by Pea Ridge on Thurs­day, Oct. 18. Pea Ridge swept the Lady Car­di­nals, 25-10, 25-22, 26-24, to claim third place. The Lady Black­hawks qual­i­fied for state tak­ing on Brook­land Tues­day, Oct. 23, in the tour­ney’s first-round at Mena.

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