The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats were able to knock off their first task on their list of season goals Tuesday night, when they officially clinched a playoff berth by beating Paris. The win not only clinched a playoff berth but also clinched a top-three seed in the district.
Sulphur Springs knew they would be in for a tough battle, as both teams played each other very closely in their first match earlier this season. They were also given the opportunity to spoil Paris’ Senior Night, which they held before the game.
The Lady Cats opened the night with a ton of momentum, quickly building a 10-2 lead in the opening set. Their huge lead wouldn’t last for long, however, as Paris quickly turned things around and were even able to tie the game up at 21-21.
Sulphur Springs didn’t let the set get away from them, however, as they regroup and finished the opening set strong, taking four of the next six points and winning 25-23.
The second set opened in a similar fashion with Sulphur Springs scoring the first seven points, but much like the first set, Paris refused to let the game get away from them. It took extra time to get the job done, but Paris was able to answer back and take the second set, winning 26-24 and evening up the game at one set each.
In the third set it was Paris who got off to the stronger start, leading for the first half of it. This time, Sulphur Springs got the chance to play from behind, and with it they played very well. The Lady Cats finished the set on a 12-3 run, winning the set by a final score of 25-16.
The fourth set saw almost the exact same result but flipped around, as they were once again tied up midway through the set, with Paris being the ones to finish strong. After both teams were tied 11-11, Paris put their foot on the gas, going on to with 25-18 and forcing a fifth and final set.
Now, with both teams having their backs against the wall, it was Sulphur Springs who completely dominated the final set. After trading points back-and-forth on the first few possessions, the Lady Cats were fueled by juniors Trinity Jefferson, Kyra Carter and Aaliyah Cheatum, who scored on six consecutive possessions and helped the Lady Cats win the set 15-6.
Jefferson and Carter led the way offensively in the five-set win, combining for 26 of the teams 48 kills. Jefferson had 16 kills, as well as a team-high six blocks and 12 assists, while Carter had 10 kills, to go along with a pair of blocks and a pair of aces.
Rainey Johnson and Cheatum also provided a ton offensively, with Johnson finished with nine kills and Cheatum having six. The pair also combined for five of the teams 11 blocks, helping Jefferson do a good job controlling the net.
Freshman Harper Hodges had yet another great night, leading the team in both assists (25) and aces (3), while junior Tessa Allen had a great game defensively, leading the team with 18 digs.
The win not only secured a playoff spot for the Lady Cats but also secured one of the top three seeds in the district, with still two games left to play. They will be back in action Friday with a road match at Pittsburg, before traveling to Pleasant Grove next week for their regular season finale.
Continued coverage of the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats and updates on their playoff schedule will be provided on Front Porch News.