CCN Sports Editor
BERRYVILLE -- Berryville volleyball coach Kristin Whetham had not been pleased with the way the Lady Bobcats had performed in the opening set of its first eight matches of the season.
After starting the year with four consecutive wins in a tournament at Pea Ridge, the Lady Bobcats (5-4) had suffered four consecutive setbacks prior to Thursday's straight-set win (25-8, 25-20, 25-14) over Gentry.
"The whole season we have come out down," said Berryville coach Kristin Whetham. "We had not won a first set until Farmington on Tuesday night. I have told them they have to come out ready to go."
Junior Hannah Needham paced the Lady Bobcats with 12 kills while sophomore Hannah Noble recorded 11. Noble said the Lady Bobcats failed to present the same intensity in the final two games as in the opener.
"It's hard to stay intense with someone who is not at your level," Noble said. "We just weren't as intense as the first game. We were expecting a harder game. But that shouldn't have affected our intensity."
After dominating Gentry in the first game, the Lady Pioneers hung tough in the second, forcing Berryville to bear down for the final five points. It also pushed Berryville to the limits early in the third before the Lady Cats reeled off 11 consecutive points to close out the match.
"We thought it would be best to pick it up and stay focused," Noble said. "We realized what we were doing. We had to stop messing around and stay ready."
Berryville did pick it up when needed in the second and third sets, though Gentry (1-8) didn't make it easy.
"We stopped making mental mistakes from the first set to the second set and that's what allowed us to stay in the game," Gentry coach Daren Ward said. "I didn't like the way we ended, kind of the way we began. But the second and third set as a whole we made better decisions."
Senior setter Emily Trowbridge aided Berryville's service game, rolling off a 10-point service run. McKenna Gerster, also a senior, followed with a four-point run. Needham added a pair of blocks to her stats while Trowbridge led the team with 12 digs. Junior libero Kayleigh Johnson and sophomore setter Misty Rhymer finished with nine each.
With only two seniors, Whetham said she expected to see some growing pains, but is seeing constant improvement.
"We are playing up to five sophomores at a time," Whetham said. "We are young and inexperienced. I think that messes with us occasionally. I think that kind of happened in the second game. But I was very proud of the girls. I think the more we play with those sophomores on the floor toward the end of the season will help us."