The Boonville Lady Pirates volleyball team felt the bull’s-eye on its back last night as the No. 1 seed in the Class 3 District 9 Tournament in Fulton.
After dropping back-to-back championship matches the last-two years, the Lady Pirates felt this was the year to end the curse.
However, after dispersing Fulton in two straight games 25-16, 25-12 in the semifinal round, the Lady Pirates turned their attention to No. 2 Southern Boone, a team they had already beaten in two games earlier in the season. But after breezing through the first set against the Lady Eagles 25-19, the errors that have plagued Boonville ever so often this season showed its ugly face as Southern Boone took advantage of of those miscues to tie the match at 1-all with a 25-19 victory. Luckily for Boonville, they still had one set to right the ship and they did so while leading Southern Boone from start to finish to win 25-16 to capture the district title.
The Lady Pirates, 21-11-2 on the season, will now advance to the sectional round of the state tournament on Saturday, Nov. 2nd against either Carl Junction or Pleasant Hill. If Carl Junction wins tonight, the sectional tournament will be held there. However, if Pleasant Hill wins, they will host the tournament.
Either way, the Lady Pirates will play at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The winner of that match will then advance to the quarterfinals to face either Logan-Rogersville or Reeds Springs at 4 p.m.
While capturing their first district title since 2008, head coach Susie Stone said she can’t say enough about each player and what they brought to the floor. “The bench energy was great and every person contributed to tonight’s success,” Stone said.
The Lady Pirates would need everybody’s contribution to win back-to-back matches, the first of which started with an old nemesis in the Fulton Lady Hornets, who have ended Boonville’s season the last-two years.
While sweeping Fulton during the regular season, the Lady Pirates came out focused and ready to play last night while leading from start to finish in both sets.
“We wanted to come out and set the tone early by trying to speed up the tempo of the game,” Stone said. “We were able to attack aggressively the first-three points of the game and make a statement. We feed off that energy and battled strong at the net. We allowed few kills by Fulton and kept our unforced errors to a minimum in both sets to come away with a convincing win in the first match. We spread the ball around offensively very well at the net this match and kept Fulton off-balance defensively. I was concerned about going into the tournament because we had the first-round bye and as a coach you would rather play a game than sit one out, but the girls responded well to being off the first round and stepped up to overcome that obstacle.”
The Lady Pirates had very few obstacles in Game 1 against Fulton while leading by nine on two occasions at 21-12 and 25-16. At 21-12, senior Raven Stone scored on a dink after a hit to the back row by Anna Davis. Then, on the final point in the set, Stone scored again on a kill to cap off a 4-0 rally.
In the second set, seniors Kristin Hoff and Taylor Fry led the Lady Pirates with 11 of the team’s 20 kills.
Boonville also hit the double digit mark while leading Fulton 18-8 on a serve-receive error by the Lady Hornets.
However, after hovering around the 10-12 point lead against Fulton, the Lady Pirates came back to closeout the match with five straight points, which ended on a hit off the block by Davis.
Hoff led the Lady Pirates with nine digs, six kills on 10 of 12 hitting, six service points with one ace, two blocks and one assist.
Taylor Fry, meanwhile, had five kills on 9 of 9 hitting, five blocks, four service points with two aces and three digs. Kylie Hohensee added 14 digs and three service points while Emma Goff had eight assists, four service points with one ace and two digs, Raven Stone with four kills on 8 of 8 hitting, four blocks, three assists and two digs, Anna Davis with five digs, three blocks, two kills on 5 of 9 hitting, one service point and one ace, Makenzie Ficken with six assists and three service points, Jessica Luscombe with four blocks and one kill on 2 of 4 hitting, Anna Terlep with two kills on 5 of 6 hitting, Daryl Fagan two digs and Sophie Taube with one dig.
With Southern Boone beating Versailles in one of the semifinal matches, the Lady Pirates came out with the same energy in the championship match against the Lady Eagles while leading from start to finish in the first set to win by six.
Boonville’s biggest lead in the set came toward the end as Hoff recorded one of her five kills in the match to make it 24-16.
“We had a lot of energy and came together very well as a team during this match,” Stone said. “Our blocking game was a huge factor in this match. We were able to get touches on balls to slow their attacks down and the first-three attacks they attempted in Game 1 were blocked for points. This help set the tone for the entire match.
“The first set we blocked, hit and passed strong. I felt like we were in control except or one point when we went on a four-point unforced error run, but we regrouped momentum and pushed ahead for the first.”
The Lady Pirates overcame those errors to win the first set. However, in the second set, Boonville struggled with almost every aspect of the game while committing 14 errors.
But even then the Lady Pirates kept the set close while trailing by only three on five different occasions from the 15-12 mark on. Unfortunately for Boonville, two of those errors came on the final three points of the set.
Stone said Southern Boone did not play scared. “They came out swinging and serving aggressively and fought back,” Stone said. “We struggled defensively and our blocks were not as effective during this match. We dug ourselves into a hole and everytime we would get close to closing the gap, they answered back to win the set.”
The Lady Pirates again kept their errors to a minimum in the third set while committing back-to-back errors only four times. Boonville’s height also caused Southern Boone problem in the third set, as sophomore Jessica Luscombe scored on three of four points to push the lead from 7-3 to 11-3.
However, after building a nine point lead at 18-9 after a block by Stone, the Lady Pirates got a little sloppy while allowing Southern Boone to rally back to cut the lead to five at 19-14.
Fry and Luscombe then followed with back-to-back kills to make it 21-14. The Lady Eagles then helped Boonville out at the end of the set with three straight hitting errors.
Stone said in the third set the girls were purely trying to put it all together and finish.
“We talked about clearing out all of the mistakes mentally we had made in the second set and just come together as a group to perform to our capabilities,” Stone said. “The team answered the challenge and executed. We blocked, dug strong and attacked smart by mixing up strong attacks with roll shots by hitting the middle of the floor to keep them off-balance. When we pushed the lead to 14-6, I felt like we had them on the ropes and we needed to put them away. We only had one small break down in communication that allowed them to score one chain of three points in a row. Other than that the girls played very well.”
Hoff again led the Lady Pirates with 24 digs, six service points with two aces, six blocks, five kills on 20 of 26 hitting and one assist.
Kylie Hohensee finished the match with 23 digs along with three service points and 1 of 3 hitting while Emma Goff had 14 assists, seven service points and three digs. Taylor Fry added 11 blocks, 10 kills on 15 of 19 hitting and two digs, while Makenzie Ficken had 10 assists, eight service points with two aces and five dig, Anna Davis with 12 digs, six blocks and one kill on 11 of 15 hitting, Raven Stone with 10 blocks, three digs, three kills on 7 of 8 hitting and one assist, Anna Terlep with six digs, five blocks and five kills on 18 of 22 hitting and Jessica Luscombe with 12 blocks and three kills on 7 of 8 hitting.