Berryville grills Gravette: Lady Cats remain unbeaten at 6-0

Thursday, September 12, 2013
Berryville's Misty Rhymer (7) defends the net in Tuesday's win against Prairie Grove. (Charles Chappell / ccimages.photoshelter.com)

GRAVETTE -- Berryville suffered its first loss of a game in four matches Thursday at Gravette. But the Lady Cats responded with three consecutive winners to beat the Lady Lions 3-1 to remain atop the 1-4A Conference standings with perfect 4-0 record. The win also helped the Lady Cats stay unbeaten overall at 6-0.

"It wasn't easy," Berryville coach Kristin Whetham said. "But a win is a win. We will take it."

After beating Prairie Grove on Tuesday (25-19, 25-14, 25-13) in what Whetham said was possibly the best match Berryville had played all year, the Lady Cats stumbled in the opener against Gravette, dropping a 25-17 decision.

"I don't think we were ready to play at the beginning," Whetham said. "Our serving was extremely low throughout the entire game and I think we underestimated them."

Berryville has depended on the four big hitters at the net to dominate play this season with Aleksei Smith, Hannah Noble, Hannah Needham and newcomer Allie Teague. Whetham said Teague struggled against Gravette in the first set before finding a groove in the final three sets.

"Allie did not have a very good night," Whetham said. "But I expect girls to go through rough patches. It seems like every game we play someone has a rough game. And this was hers. She was in the net a lot."

Teague settled in after the first, finishing the match with seven kills. Noble led the Lady Cats with 13 while Smith added 12 and Needham finished with four.

But it was defense Whetham credited the win.

"Our defense stepped up," she said. "They had more hitters than I expected. We didn't see them at all this summer. But I didn't expect to see what I saw from them. They did a good job of setting the ball up and getting it to their hitters. And their hitters were consistent. It came down to digs and getting tips at the net."

Needham was also struggling with back troubles.

"Hannah Needham was favoring her back," Whetham said. "She couldn't jump serve because of it and her jump serve is very difficult to handle."

The Lady Cats registered just nine aces against Gravette after posting 19 against Prairie Grove.

Smith led the Lady Cats against Prairie Grove with 11 kills, Noble and Morgan Pando followed with five each and Teague finished with seven.

The Lady Cats finished with 200 digs at Gravette with Kayleigh Johnson picking up 55. Smith had 43, Noble added 41 and Needham had 20.

Whetham said she was pleased to see the Lady Cats respond after losing the first game.

"They fought back and won three in a row," she said. "I am very proud to see them get back up. They never got down and continued to play hard."

Farmington, Gravette and Pea Ridge are tied for second in the conference with one loss each.

Berryville travels to Harrison on Saturday for the SlamFest before playing Valley Springs in a non-conference outing on Monday. The Lady Cats host Lincoln next Thursday.

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