The Ballard Memorial Lady Bombers defended their 3rd District Championship by winning it back-to-back years, defeating Graves County Monday night October 21st at the Eagle’s Nest. The Lady Bombers swept the Lady Eagles in straight sets, winning 25-20, 25-13, and 25-11.
“I am really excited we get to do this for the seniors,” said Elizabeth Goodin and she finished with a double-double with 14 kills and 11 digs in the championship game. Senior Taylor Foster just missed the volleyball version of the triple double as she finished with 15 kills, nine aces, and seven digs in the title match. “It’s awesome,” said Foster as she added, “I had good passing from my teammates and good sets. I wanted to go for the kills.”
It took a little time for the Lady Bombers to get the opening game jitters out of their system. Graves County, who swept Mayfield earlier in the night to advance to the championship game, jumped out to the early 7-3 lead. Ballard Memorial would rally back. Goodin had a couple of kills to trim the Lady Eagle lead to one, and then she teamed up with Jade Tilford for a block to tie the score. Foster then got a pair of aces along with a double team block by Tilford and Kaylee Stover to give the Lady Bombers the 10-7 advantage. Graves County showed a lot of fight in the early set and rallied to retake the lead at 17-14. The Lady Bombers then mounted the set winning drive, triggered by three kills by Foster and a trio of kills by Goodin, including the set winner to take the 25-20 set victory. “We did not come out as strong as I would have liked to,” said Coach Adam Solomon of the sluggish Lady Bomber start. He added, “Give Graves County some credit as they really blocked well.”
Three kills by Foster and a pair of aces by Madison Trusha sparked the early 5-1 second set lead for the Lady Bombers. A nice dig by Goodin helped set up a Stover kill to push the lead back to 6-2. The Lady Eagles would chip away at the lead and trim the deficit to 14-12. Ballard Memorial would take control from there on, including scoring the last nine points in the set to take the commanding two set to zero lead. Foster would have three aces and a kill while Goodin added a pair of kills along with Tilford getting in on the action with a kill of her own during that nine to zero run to close out the set.
The Lady Bombers would then dominate the final set. Trusha had a kill in the back corner and an ace to go along with another kill by Foster and a block by Stover as the Lady Bombers jumped out to the 9-2 advantage. The Lady Bombers would not look back as they took aim on the district crown. They continued to extend the lead and had the 24-11 advantage. Appropriately enough Foster found another hole in the Lady Eagle’s defense, and served her ninth ace on the night to end the match with the 25-11 victory.
“It feels good to win it back-to-back,” said Solomon as he added, “We have 25 plus wins with a very challenging schedule.” In fact, the win was the 27th on the season and gives the Lady Bombers home court advantage in the regional tournament. The 3rd District Champion’s host the regional tournament this season. “It’s a good feeling,” said Tilford, as she added about being able to play the tournament at the Green Palace, “It’s going to be nice. We are going to have a nice student body section and we tend to bring quite the crowd when we play so we think it will be a big advantage.” Goodin echoed those sentiments saying, “We know we will have a big fan base, whether it is home or away,” as she added, “Just having that home court advantage really is going to help us.”
Foster also discussed about how the team has progressed throughout the season saying, “It took a little time to get back in the routine of playing with each other. We lost one of our really good role models, Cydnie, and it just took us time to figure out who was going to be the next leader.” Foster was referencing last year’s team leader Cydnie Wiggins who had graduated last year. And winning this year after losing a caliber player as Wiggins, may have made the championship even sweeter. Solomon said, “To me it’s a big win going back-to-back. After losing a regional player of the year from last year and to win back-to- back, it was no easy task at all.” Foster, Goodin, Stover, and Tilford were selected to the All-Tournament Team. Tilford ended the match with 36 assists and eight digs while Stover seven kill and three digs. They both also had four blocks apiece.
The regional tournament runs Monday through Thursday at the Green Palace. The Lady Bombers drew Marshall County for their opening round opponent on Monday night with the winner facing the victor in the Hickman County-McCracken County game on Wednesday night at 6:00 in semifinal action. The winner of the semifinal match up will advance to the finals on Halloween night, Thursday the 31st. Solomon was really pleased with the turnout at last year’s tournament, and is hoping with the tournament being at the Green Palace, the Bomber faithful will come out in vast numbers to support the Lady Bombers. Solomon said, “Let’s pack it and have some fun.” And how much more fun would it be than to capture that first ever regional title at the Green Palace?