There were no slouches or easy matches for Bentonville to face during the Jenks (Okla.) Invitational during the weekend.
That’s what made the Lady Tigers’ performance against that kind of field even more impressive as Bentonville (18-3) went unscathed and won the Gold Bracket championship. The field included nationally ranked teams such as Norman North, which the Lady Tigers beat in pool play, and Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe, which Bentonville beat twice.
“I was really pleased with seeing how the girls could perform against some high-level competition,” coach Michelle Smith said. “There was no easy team there where we could sit back and say it’s an easy win. It pushed us and challenged us.
“But the girls stayed together and stayed committed to the goals. When each match is a best-of-five series, it can make you exhausted, but the girls pushed through.”
Tournament most valuable player Tymber Riley had 61 kills and 73 digs through Bentonville’s five matches, while all-tournament nominee Anna Palasak had 61 kills, 42 digs and 16 aces. Tori Lowry, another all-tournament selection, had 35 kills and 42 digs, while Grayce Joyce had 36 kills and 15 total blocks.
The Lady Tigers, who have won 14 straight matches, don’t get to rest on their tournament achievements. The second half of 7A-West Conference play awaits, and Bentonville heads to Fayetteville for a big match Tuesday night.
“Fayetteville also played in a tournament over the weekend,” Smith said. “So there are no excuses. We have to be physically and mentally ready, and it’s going to be a great match, no matter what happens.
West coach Julie Rowan said her team’s goal heading into the second half of 7A-West Conference play is to give its opponents a tougher than it did the first time.
“The experience of those first games should count,” Rowan said. “We should be more mentally tough and more prepared for the second matches.”
The Lady Wolverines (8-11, 3-4) begin the second half of league play with a home match Tuesday against Van Buren, and a win could help solidify their chances of two state tournament berths in as many years.
West is coming off a 3-2 performance at the Carl Junction (Mo.) Invitational. The Lady Wolverines went 2-1 in pool play with wins over Republic, Mo., and Nevada, Mo., then defeated Webb City in tournament play before losing to House Springs (Mo.) Northwest.
“We were just able to get some consistency in our play,” Rowan said. “We played in the first tournament — the Early Bird — and we weren’t ready, so it was rough.
“It was nice to make changes between matches and play at a consistent level until the last match, which was a letdown, I guess.”
Sophomore Kortney Puckett was named to the all-tournament team, while Rowan complimented Winnie Spurlock for her play at setter, as well as hitters Emerson Traveek and Kerryann Ptacek. Avery Kniss also had some kills in key situations.
— Henry Apple • @NWAHenry
The Lady Mounties (8-14, 2-5 7A-West) will begin the second round of conference play without their starting setter, coach Christina Lawrence said.<br><br>
Senior Madelyn Tauai missed last week because of a concussion suffered outside of volleyball and she’ll be out at least another week, Lawrence said.<br><br>
Rogers struggled last week without her, but the Lady Mounties have had problems off the court, too, this season, Lawrence said.<br><br>
Moving senior outside hitter Hannah Martin to a setter spot hurts the team both offensively and defensively, Lawrence said.
“We have had a lot of non-volleyball issues,” Lawrence said. “It’s been tough, but the girls will learn. I thought Kassidy Wall played really well over the weekend.”<br><br>
Even with Tauai setting, the Lady Mounties aren’t getting enough production out of their middles, Lawrence said.<br><br>
“We maybe get two kills out of the middle,” Lawrence said. “We’ve got to find a way to take some of the pressure off our outside.”<br><br>
Rogers begins the second round by hosting Springdale Har-Ber on Tuesday before traveling to rival Rogers Heritage on Thursday.<br><br>
The Lady War Eagles (3-11-1, 0-7 7A-West) are still searching for their first win in conference play as they second round begins this weeks, but coach Lindsey Biocic has seen some players show good progress.<br><br>
Seniors Lora Brown and Erica Reaser are two that have provided leadership on and off the court, Biocic said. Reaser ran track in the spring and didn’t get the benefit of offseason volleyball or summer club ball. <br><br>
“She started off slow, but she’s back to where she was a year ago and has stepped up big lately as one we can count on,” Biocic said. “Lora got a swing or two out of the middle last match and she’s never played middle in her life. I’m proud of the kids being adjustable.
“We’re still working to figure out what works best for us.”
Heritage travels to Springdale High on Tuesday, then hosts rival Rogers High on Thursday. The Mounties swept Heritage in their first meeting.<br><br>
— Paul Boyd • @NWAPaulB
The Lady Bulldogs battled stiff out-of-state competition for the second straight weekend and have a big week with home matches against Bentonville High on Tuesday and Bentonville West in Thursday.
Fayetteville coach Jessica Phelan tweeted this after her team posted a 2-3 mark at the Blue Springs (Mo.) South Invitational on Saturday. The previous weekend, the Lady Bulldogs went 3-3 at the Durango Classic in Las Vegas.
Home from another weekend of tough out of state competition. Regroup and ready for the second half of conference starting this week. 🚌👊
— Fayetteville VB (@FHSVolleydogs) September 24, 2017
Fayetteville opened Saturday’s pool play with a 2-0 loss against Lenexa (Kan.) St. James Academy and a 2-1 loss against Nixa, Mo., before bounding back to defeat St. Louis Lutheran South 2-1. They opened bracket play with a 2-0 win against Blue Springs (Mo.) High and then lost 2-1 against Springfield (Mo.) Kickapoo.
The Lady Bulldogs split the first two sets against Kickapoo before falling 25-22 in the final set of the best-of-three match. Senior Haley Warner had 19 kills for the second straight match and had 73 kills during the five-match day.
Ella May Powell combined for tourney-high 12 kills and 14 digs to go along with 24 assists against Kickapoo. The senior had 109 kills on the day.
Five of freshman Rosana Hicks 19 total kills during the tourney came against Kickapoo.
— Mike Capshaw • @NWACappy
The Lady Wildcats wrapped up the first round of conference matches in dominant fashion last week, sweeping Van Buren at home and Rogers Heritage on the road.
Lauren Thompson and Jayci Carpenter led Har-Ber with 13 kills and 10 kills, respectively, against the Lady Pointers. Thursday, Thompson finished with a team-high 11 kills to push Har-Ber to 5-2 in league matches so far.
Over the weekend, coach Shyrah Schisler’s club traveled to the Jenks (Okla.) Invitational, and returned home 3-2. Har-Ber beat Broken Arrow (Okla.), Jenks and Deer Creek (Okla.). Although it fell to Jenks in its final match of the weekend, Har-Ber’s attack was strong.
The Lady Wildcats totaled four of its top five performances of the season in terms of kills in its final four matches of the weekend. Har-Ber recorded 58 vs. Jenks, a season-high 62 vs. Deer Creek, 53 vs. Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe and 56 more vs. Jenks to close the tournament.
Har-Ber opens the back half of league play with a short trip to Rogers High before hosting Springdale High on Thursday. It will compete in tournament play for the second time in as many weeks at the Fort Smith Invitational on Saturday.
– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie
Springdale snapped a three-match losing skid to end last week with a four-set win against Rogers High.
The win was doubly important for Springdale, which blew a 2-0 lead at home vs. Van Buren just a week prior. The Lady Red’Dogs finished the first half of league matches in fourth place in the 7A-West.
“It felt really good to break that losing streak,” coach Meagan Thompson said. “We really focused in on having to win this game to end round one where we wanted to be in position going into round two of conference. The girls overcame those losses, and they stepped up to the occasion.”
As conference play gears back up this week, Springdale has a chance to get back to .500 against league opponents. Rogers Heritage is up first at home. Springdale downed the Lady War Eagles in three sets to begin conference action in late August.
Thursday brings another challenge for Springdale with its trip to rival Springdale Har-Ber. Har-Ber swept the Lady Red’Dogs on Sept. 5 behind Lauren Thompson’s 14 kills. Springdale will take part in the Fort Smith Invitational to close out the week.
– Scottie Bordelon • @NWAScottie