Patriot volleyball squad on a winning streak
Marion a perfect 3- 0 in 5A conference play
Marion School District Patriot volleyball (5-1 overall, 3-0 5A East) is off to a hot start in 2020 thanks to an improved front row and some brilliant play on defense. Marion has rattled off five straight wins, including three conference wins in the competitive 6A East.
Marion’s wins have started off with close sets before the Pats eventually found a way to pull away in the later sets. Patriot coach Lisa Beasley said she wishes her team would play as strong in the early sets as they do in the later, but is still pleased with their effort so far.
“It's kind of hard to watch at first, like pulling teeth, but they dug it out and took care of business,” Beasley said. “We played three games a week for each of the last two weeks, so I was happy with the way we finished strong.
The season started at home on August 24 against a tough Collierville Dragons (6-1) team that had won 31 games the year before.
Marion dropped the first two sets, 25-18. The Dragons still won set three, but the Pats played a much cleaner set, falling 25-23.
The Beebe Badgers (0-2) traveled to Patriot Arena the next night where the Pats appeared to have found their rhythm. Marion held off Badger runs in every set for their 25-18, 25-16 and 25-18 three-set victory.
Marion’s toughest match in the early part of the season came on August 27 at Greene County Tech (1-1).
It also felt like the two teams were in a race against time as well with the front edge of Hurricane Laura creating tornado warnings in the surrounding areas. The Pats edged out a 25-23 set one victory, but the improved Eagle defense helped Tech earn a 27-25 victory in set two. Marion’s front line dominated the third set, 25-13, thanks to a combination of kills and blocks from players like seniors Camille Moncrief, Myah Bradley and Kersten Jackson.
Set four featured an Eagles resurgence to push the score into extra points again. The Eagles scored four straight to tie the game at 24, but the Pats scored three of the final four points for the 27-25 set win and a 3-1 match victory.
The Patriots’ front row was on full display in their trip to Wynne (1-2) on Monday, August 31. Juniors Anna Caroline Fesmire and Daedrianna Cail recorded numerous difficult kills throughout the game, and sophomore Kiah Rucker seemed more comfortable in her block attempts.
Marion’s defense also made some key digs and sets in the three-set (25-15, 25-6, 25-6) win. The back row coalition of twins Madison and Lauryn Keith and Kora Wilson could be a difference maker as the season progresses.
Volleyball came back to Patriot Arena the following night as the Patriots played their second conference game against the Nettleton Raiders (0-2). Nettleton stayed close early in each of the three sets, but it was another big night for the Patriot offense that led to another three-set (25-17, 25-9, 25-13) victory.
Thursday’s trip to Searcy (0-3) ended in a sweep (25-19, 25-18, 25-9), yet it was a definite outlier compared to the way the girls had played up until then.
Neither team played very well in the early sets, but the Pats appeared to get their feet underneath them in the third.
“I wish I knew how to turn it on earlier for the girls instead of starting off slow,” Beasley said after the game. “However, I do feel like we’ve gotten better with each match. We played really good on Tuesday, had a great practice on Wednesday, and I see great things in this team.”
Up next for the Patriots is a road contest against a team that has become a rivalry game over the years, the Jonesboro Golden Hurricane. The two teams played nine sets in the regular season last year and split the series with the road team taking the win both times. The night will begin at 4:30 p.m., next Tuesday, beginning with the 7th grade game, followed by Junior B, Junior A and the varsity contest.
Photo courtesy of Marion Schools