Tigers challenge Collegiate at state

Wednesday, November 5, 2003
Green Forest senior Monica Pineda just got this spike over a double block by Episcopal Collegiate players during Tuesday's game, as teammate Nicki Kilbourn, at left, and others moved in to cover. Great defense by the Lady Tigers kept them in the match, including winning a game. CCN/David McNeal

In just its third year, the Green Forest volleyball team reached a goal ---- to qualify for the Class AAA State Volleyball Tournament.

But qualifying wasn't enough, as satisfying as it was. What the team and Coach Jennifer Bassett wanted was to play well against some of the top competition in the state ---- and they did.

The Lady Tigers lost to Episcopal Collegiate of Little Rock in four games on Tuesday at the Brandon Burlsworth Center in Harrison, site of the AAA event, but played quality volleyball all the way, including winning the second game of the match.

"We played very well," Coach Bassett said. "We just needed a little more firepower. We had some great blocks and some great digs on defense, but we had a hard time with a couple of their servers.

"This was a good experience for our girls. It was the first of many doors opening. Hitting and serving against better competition, and bump, set, spiking and good rallies against better competition will make them even more successful next year.

"We're just a three year program, with a new coach, but they have been successful this season. It's amazing they could accomplish this much.

"I want to recognize three players, Monica Pineda, Maria Camacho, and Ana Guerrero, who started with the program three years ago. They are the first ones to go to state, and no one can ever take that away from them."

VS. EPISCOPAL COLLEGIATE

Tuesday, Oct. 28

22-25, 26-24, 11-25, 14-25

The Lady Tigers lineup of Monica Pineda, Ana Guerrero, Summer Williamson, Becky Peden, Maria Camacho, Nicki Kilbourn, and LaRae Jones was determined to stay with the Collegiate team.

With help off the bench from Ashley Hutchins, Staci Watson, Megan Bennett, and Jordan Locke, the first game went point-for-point, with the teams tying up at 19-all, 21-all, and 22-all before Collegiate got the final two points to win that game, 25-22.

The loss didn't dampen a big Tiger crowd, including a number of students who checked out of school to attend the match, and kept the excitement high with their verbal support.

Green Forest didn't flinch, coming back from 7-10, 12-14, and 16-19 to tie the game at 19-all. LaRae Jones got her serve going and kept the team ahead by one, then Collegiate tied it at 22-all, again.

This time, Green Forest got the edge, kept it, and with the score tied at 24-all, Monica Pineda served and earned a point. She then put the final point of that game in play, and Jordan Locke put a spike into a hole in the Collegiate defense and the Lady Tigers had a 26-24 win!

The excitement of winning a game during the state tournament may have caused a Tiger letdown, as Collegiate found their hard serves, and roared ahead 12-5, 21-10, and 24-11 for an easy 25-11 win.

Green Forest started out battling hard in the fourth game, using a hustling defense to return just about everything Collegiate hit at them. Save after save got them the ball, with Kilbourn, Jones, and Pineda attempting spike after spike.

Green Forest jumped out to an 8-4 lead, but Collegiate got some big blocks at the net, pounded some serves, and stayed up 17-12, 22-13, and finally 25-14 to win the game and match.

"Summer Williamson had a couple of big blocks, and Monica Pineda played great back row," Bassett said. "Nicki Kilbourn was good at the net, and LaRae Jones was all over the court."

It wasn't the win they were hoping for, but the Lady Tigers showed they could play with one of the state's best ---- and that at the state tournament level.

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