FARMINGTON -- Gravette errors during a crucial juncture allowed Farmington to pull away from a dogfight in the first set and sweep Gravette (25-23, 25-18, 25-17) Thursday night at Cardinal Arena.
A hotly-contested game one was decided by a service error, which brought Farmington to game-point. That was followed by a hitting error that gave the Lady Cardinals a 25-23 first set victory in 4A-1 volleyball action.
The win improved Farmington's conference record at 2-1 following a Tuesday, Sept. 4, loss (22-25, 25-23, 14-25, 25-27) at Pea Ridge, with the Lady Cardinals rejoining the 4A-1 after competing from 2014-2017 as a member of the 5A West.
"We moved back down to that 4A Northwest and it's not new to us because it's the same group of teams we had to play a couple of years back before we moved up," said first-year Farmington coach Mike Howard. "It's all those bitter rivals, the Prairie Groves, the Gentrys, the Gravettes, Pea Ridge, Shiloh's back in it. We got Berryville, Harrison. It's the same teams we love to hate and they love to hate us, so we're ready to play."
Gravette played well early in the first set. The Lady Lions' junior middle blocker, Olivia Perry, gave Farmington lots of trouble at the net in game one. She used her height and reach to contest Farmington hits and also pound the Lady Cardinals, leading Gravette to a 7-4 lead.
Farmington rallied with junior Kally Stout recording back-to-back kills from the outside hitter position. Stout and teammate Eliza Ball showed dexterity and presence of mind, fighting off blocks by Perry with their left hand after attacking with their right hand on the same volley. Farmington stuck with its offense and set up a third hit to Stout, who was at last able to score a hard-fought point, tying the game at 7-7.
The Lady Cardinals surged ahead, using a 6-0 run to go up 10-7 and inducing a Gravette time-out. Coming out of the stoppage of action, Gravette pounded the nets. Senior Brooklyn Lykins began a Lady Lion 6-1 run with a kill. Haley Dawson's kill was followed by Allie Callahan's strong kill at outside hitter that brought oohs from Gravette fans making the trip to Farmington. Perry added a block-kill as the visitors moved back in front, 13-11, on a palming violation.
Stout answered for Farmington by smacking a pair of kills before Perry smothered a hit for another block-kill at the net, keeping Gravette within 16-13. Senior Alexis Cates stretched Farmington's lead to 18-13, capping a 7-0 Lady Cardinal run and prompting another Gravette time-out.
When play resumed, Gravette fashioned a 7-1 run to overtake Farmington. Perry dominated at the net, sandwiching a pair of kills around a block-kill. Gravette senior libero Kaylee Midyett served consecutive aces to push Gravette back into the lead at 20-19.
The game was tied at 20 and 21 before the teams exchanged hitting errors, giving Gravette a side-out and trimming Farmington's advantage to 23-22. Farmington was whistled for a violation during a set which tied the game again at 23-23. Gravette served for the lead, but the serve went wide. Then the Lady Lions hit the ball long and out-of-bounds, giving away the final two points and enabling Farmington to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five match.
The final two sets weren't nearly as close, with Farmington pulling away to win game two by a score of 25-18 and nearly replicating that with a 25-17 win in game three to complete a sweep.Sports on 09/12/2018
Print Headline: Hotly-contested game one win sets tone at Farmington