The McCracken County Lady Mustangs took care of business as they knocked the Ballard Memorial Lady Bombers out of the First Region Volleyball Tournament on Wednesday night, October 30th. The Lady Bombers had hoped hosting the tournament would provide the needed energy to compete with the region’s best team. That did not happen as the Lady Mustangs cruised to the easy three set victory in the semifinal matchup winning 25-11, 25-8, and 25-7.
Both teams advanced to the semi final match with quarterfinal victories with the Lady Mustangs sweeping past Hickman County is straight sets. The Lady Bombers looked dominant in their opening set victory over the Lady Marshalls of Marshall County. The home crowd helped energize the Lady Bombers and they scored the first five points in the set and never looked back on the way to a 25-13 set victory. The Lady Marshalls would not go down without a fight as they opened the second set with a 7-1 advantage. The lead grew to nine at 15-6 before Ballard Memorial would claw back into the match. An Elizabeth Goodin kill late in the set would trim the lead to 22-20, but they could not overcome the early deficit and dropped the second set 25-22. The Lady Bombers would respond and claim the last two sets with the 25-20 victory in each set for the 3-1 victory. Ballard Memorial advanced with the 25-13, 22-25, 25-20, and 25-20 victory.
In the semifinal matchup with McCracken County, the Lady Bombers jumped out to the 2-0 lead with a Rebekah Hogancamp ace to start the match and a Kaylee Stover kill. The Lady Mustangs would score six of the next seven points to take the lead. A Goodin kill later in the match would trim the Lady Mustang lead to one at 7-6. McCracken County would take over from there and dominate the remainder of the match. The Lady Bombers were not able to return the Lady Mustang serves or stop the kills. This allowed McCracken County to take the first set 25-11. It would not get any better for Ballard Memorial as they fell behind 7-1 to start the second set. After Taylor Foster put the ball to the back line for a point and a Stover ace, McCracken went on a run. They would score the next 11 points before Goodin made a kill to stop the run. It would not last long as McCracken continued its dominance on their way to the 25-8 set victory.
In the third set, Ballard Memorial would take an early 2-1 lead, but would struggle for the remainder of the set. They would fall behind 8-2 before Stover would gather another kill to cut into the Lady Mustang lead. Goodin would help get the Lady Bombers another point to trim the Lady Mustang lead to 11-4, but McCracken would again respond. They would outscore Ballard Memorial 14-3 to close out the set and the match.
“We really did not play well at all,” said Coach Adam Solomon following the disappointing loss. What may have been even more disappointing was the play of the team that had finished the season 20-4 after losing in the All A semifinals in early September. “We came out really strong at the beginning of the game, but we really struggled with serve-receive, passing, and defense, which did not allow for us to compete,” said Solomon. McCracken County came out and proved they were the best team by far in the first region. Their serves continually put the Lady Bombers on the defensive and kept Ballard from being able to consistently doing any sets. Instead of being able to attack the net and make plays up front, the Lady Bombers were just barely able to get the ball over the net. This allowed the Lady Mustangs to get into their sets and get the big hits. The Lady Bombers uncharacteristically were allowing balls to drop and the lack of offensive sets prevented Goodin and Foster to be a factor in the contest. The loss brought to an end a very successful career for Foster and Maggie Denton who graduate at the end of the school year. Foster has been a part of the varsity team for five years while Denton has competed for the last three seasons. Junior Jade Tilford earned All Tournament Team honors for her play in the regional tournament.
The Lady Bombers once again finished the season with 20 plus wins for the fifth straight season. The Lady Bombers concluded the season with a 28-10 record and the 28 victories is the second most in school history for single season win totals. “We played a very tough schedule, so to go 28-10, be the district champs, finish second in the region in the coaches poll, we had a good year and I am very proud of this team,” said Solomon as he reflected on the season. Then looking forward toward the 2014 season, he said, “We return a big junior class that will be seniors and they’ve got a lot of experience. I look to be very competitive.”