GF coach: 1st-round loss doesn’t spoil great season

Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Green Forest junior Maddie Youngblood slams home a kill against Fountain Lake.
Charles Chappell /

By Scott Loftis

The Green Forest Lady Tigers’ first trip to the Class 3A state volleyball tournament since 2015 was a brief one, but coach Christie Popejoy said that doesn’t diminish a successful season.

Fountain Lake beat Green Forest in three sets in a first-round match Tuesday afternoon at Paris High School, winning 25-16, 25-14, 25-12.

The Lady Tigers were competitive early in each set, but Fountain Lake took advantage of Green Forest errors for long scoring runs.

In the first set, Green Forest led 7-6 and 8-7 after kills by junior Maddie Youngblood and senior Alissa Smith. The Lady Tigers trailed 14-12 before an 8-0 Fountain Lake run.

A kill by senior Skylar Howerton gave the Lady Tigers a 9-8 lead in the second set but Fountain Lake went on a 14-1 run to take control with a 22-10 advantage.

In the final set, Green Forest was within 14-10 on an ace by junior Magen Parton before a 5-1 Fountain Lake run.

Green Forest finished with 16 dig errors in 36 attempts, and Popejoy said the pressure of the state tournament might have been a factor.

“We’d be playing point for point and we’d make one mistake and we’d end up losing four or five points,” Popejoy said. “If we get back to state, the girls will have a better idea of what to expect.”

Howerton led Green Forest (17-9) with six kills, while Smith and Youngblood each added five. Parton had two aces, with Howerton and senior Kendall DeMeyer adding one apiece. Smith had a team-high eight digs.

Despite the loss, it was a successful season for the Lady Tigers. Green Forest won the 3A-North regular-season conference championship in its first season under Popejoy and finished second in the district tournament.

Although the loss stung, Popejoy said she told her players to hold their heads up and appreciate what they accomplished.

“It was a good season,” she said. “Especially with it being my first year and changing some things up. I threw a lot at them, and they responded well.”

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