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Lady Bears historic season comes to end

by Tyler Lennon

The Sulphur Bluff Lady Bears traveled to Garland Wednesday to face the Fayetteville Lady Lions in the state semifinals. The game marked the first time the Lady Bears had ever made it to the state tournament, capping off a historic run for their team.

Senior captain Tori Raine got the Lady Bears on the board first, scoring on a kill in the opening possession. A few possessions later it was fellow senior captain Skylar Stanley who came up with a huge kill, keeping the score tied at 3-3.

Unfortunately for Sulphur Bluff, this is when the Lady Lions turned their game up a notch, scoring six consecutive points and forcing coach Lacie Jessup to use her first timeout. Later in the set Raine had back-to-back kills to give her team some momentum, though they were never able to work their way back into the set.

Trailing 22-8, Stanley ended the set on fire. The senior captain had a huge block and a pair of kills, but the Lady Bears ultimately lost the opening set by a score of 25-13.

Junior Taylor Wallis got the second set started with an ace, once again putting Sulphur Bluff on top to open the set. Fayetteville tried their best to pull away, but the Lady Bears wouldn’t let them, keeping themselves in the game. 

An ace from Raine and a kill from Stanley cut the deficit to just two points, as Sulphur Bluff trailed 11-9. From there things began to slip away from the Lady Bears. Quickly Fayetteville went on an 11-2 run, creating a good bit of separation from Sulphur Bluff. The Lady Bears kept fighting, but eventually fell 25-16.

With their backs against the wall, the Lady Bears came out for the final set and once again scored the first point, but their lead didn’t last long. Fayetteville had their best set of the day and built a double-digit lead for themselves fairly quickly.

Stanley kept fighting, scoring on a block and a kill on back-to-back possessions, but to cut the deficit to 18-9. The Lady Bears continued to fight, but fell 25-10, putting an end to their historic run. 

Fayetteville went on the next day to beat Blum in the state championship, also winning that game in straight sets. The Lady Lions won by final scores of 25-15, 25-23 and 25-22.

“It was such an exciting moment when we entered the gym Wednesday morning,” Jessup said. “I could see the nerves filling the girls faces and I don’t think they were ever really able to shake those nerves.”

“I’m so proud of their accomplishments this season. We may not have played our best game in the state tournament, but these girls worked so hard all season,” Jessup added. “It has been a true pleasure to be their coach this season!”

Stanley led the way offensively for the Lady Bears, finishing with seven kills. She also had five digs and a pair of blocks.

Just behind her was Raine who had six kills, as well as six digs and one ace. Setting things up was Kaitlyn Brock who had 13 assists and three digs.

Wallis and Lydia Drummond each had six digs. Wallis also had one ace and Drummond had one kill. 

Dacee Howse had one kill, while Allie Eason had one dig and Emma Neal had one ace. The Lady Bears end their season with a record of 26-10, as well as State semifinalists.

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