LADY BOMBERS CAPTURE SECOND ALL A TITLE
By Tim Taylor
For the second time in three years, the Ballard Memorial Lady Bombers will represent the First Region in the Touchstone Energy All A State Volleyball Tournament. The Lady Bombers rolled through pool play defeating Hickman County 25-13, 25-4, St. Mary Vikings 25-7, 25-10, and Christian Fellowship 25-8, 20-25, 25-20 to claim the first round bye into the semifinals for the regional tournament. The Lady Falcons of Hickman County knocked off Community Christian Academy to set up a rematch in the semifinals with Ballard Memorial.
In the elimination round, the teams played a best of five match. The Lady Bombers stormed out to a 7-0 lead in the blink of an eye and went on for the 25-9 first set win. The Lady Bombers jumped to the 10-1 lead and took the second set with the 25-17 win. The Lady Falcons gave the Lady Bombers a challenge in the third set. The game was tied at 13 all before the Lady Bombers started to stretch the lead. Ballard Memorial was able to pull away in the end and came away with the 25-17 win. They claimed the three set victory 25-9, 25-17, 25-17. This set up a championship matchup between the number one seeded Lady Bombers and the number two seeded Murray Lady Tigers.
The two teams split their prior matchups earlier in the year, so this set up to be a competitive match, and it lived up to its billing. The Lady Tigers made an early statement as they went out to the 7-1 lead. The Lady Bombers would get to within four on a few occasions, but Murray would prevail in the first set 25-20. In the second set, the Lady Bombers trailed 10-8 before the Lady Tigers would start to pull away. The lead would reach 19-12, and then the tide turned in the favor of the Lady Bombers. Senior Elizabeth Goodin would get a kill to give the Lady Bombers some momentum. The team did the rest from there as they would outscore Murray 13-1 to finish the second set with 25-20 Lady Bomber win to even up the match. Again, the Lady Bombers played from behind in the third set. They fell behind 4-0 and would trail by as many as five. However, the Lady Bombers would claw back and take the lead. With the Lady Bombers up 24-20, Tessa Blankenship would come up with a big dig that would lead to a Goodin kill to take the second set 25-20. The fourth set followed the theme of the match as Murray would start off to the 6-2 lead and would extend their advantage to 16-10. The Lady Bombers would again edge closer and closer. An ace by Goodin would tie the set up at 19 all. Murray would score the next three to take the three point edge. Goodin's kill would give the Lady Bomber's possession and Adriana Worley would then serve the Lady Bombers to the title. The Bombers continued to score and with the scored tied at 22 all, Blankenship would get a kill to give the Lady Bombers the lead at 23-22. Madison Trusha would follow that up with a huge block to give the Lady Bombers a chance at Championship point. Worley would continue to serve and a couple of big digs would allow the Lady Bombers to volley the ball back onto Murray's side of the net. The Lady Tiger's return went long to seal the Lady Bombe's trip to Louisville for the state tournament with the 20-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-22 win.
"The first one was nice. The second one is sweeter because you realize how hard it is just to win this," said Coach Adam Solomon. He added, "We've had injuries and players that left us and players in new positions. This one was just harder, much harder than the first one." Senior Jade Tilford was one of those starting the season with an injury. She said, "I was thankful it was a quick recovery. This year I just kept saying hard work. We were working for another banner." Fellow senior Elizabeth Goodin added, "It was nice to win as a sophomore, but it was even sweeter as a senior just because it is a legacy to be leaving behind." Goodin also said the team started at the bottom this year with the injuries and they had nowhere to go but up. They reached the top in the region with the All A title. About going to state, Goodin added, "We're still going up, and at state, we want to show that." Tilford added, "We need to make the Elite 8 again to get a matching banner." The 2012 team that won the First Region All A advanced to the Elite 8 at state.
The beginning of the week did not look too bright for the Lady Bombers as they dropped a three set match in their home opener on Tuesday night, September 9th to the Lady Marshalls 25-19, 25-23, 25-19. This was the second time the Lady Bombers had dropped a match to Marshall County this season. Ballard Memorial would respond on Thursday night with rival CCA as the Lady Bombers came away with the 25-21, 25-20, 25-19 sweep of the Lady Warriors. The Lady Bombers cannot have an All A letdown as they have home matches this week against district foe Graves County on the 16th and 4th district rival Calloway County on the 18th. The 11-5 Lady Bombers will begin All A state competition on Saturday morning at 8:30 Eastern time against Louisville Holy Cross. Also in their pool play will be Washington County and Leslie County. The top two teams will advance to the Elite 8. Solomon said of the regional title, "I did not think one person won it for us. It was a true team effort." That team effort will be essential for the Lady Bombers to advance at the state tournament. An Elite 8 is within reach for the Lady Bombers, and a state title?? Time will tell.