Change in venue didn’t stop Lady Bulldog victory

Larea Echeverria/Special to the Eagle Observer
Lady Bulldog Heaven McGarrah (right) sends the ball back over the net as a Lady Griffin blocker (left) gets ready to intercept the ball during the Ozark Catholic Academy-Decatur volleyball match in the gym at St. Joseph Catholic School in Fayetteville on Sept. 12.
Larea Echeverria/Special to the Eagle Observer Lady Bulldog Heaven McGarrah (right) sends the ball back over the net as a Lady Griffin blocker (left) gets ready to intercept the ball during the Ozark Catholic Academy-Decatur volleyball match in the gym at St. Joseph Catholic School in Fayetteville on Sept. 12.

FAYETTEVILLE -- "Where are we going," asked assistant Lady Bulldog volleyball coach Mike Eckels as the Decatur activity bus made its way through the back streets of eastern Fayetteville Thursday afternoon.

The Decatur Lady Bulldogs were about to play long-time rival, the Ozark Catholic Lady Griffins, in an entirely different venue than the Arkansas Athlete Outreach facility where the team usually plays.

The Bulldog bus pulled into the parking lot of St. Joseph's Catholic church about 45 minutes before the start of the first match. Besides the new venue, the Decatur junior high A and B teams squared off against an unfamiliar opponent, the host St. Joseph Lady Panthers, in a two-set B contest and a best of three for the A team.

The night's contests began with the junior high B teams. The Lady Bulldogs jumped out in front by two early on, but the Lady Panthers, on a series of runs later in the contest, gave St. Joseph the first set win, 25-17. The second set was much closer as the Lady Bulldogs and the Lady Panthers exchanged the lead several times before another rally by the Lady Panthers gave them the win, 25-21, and the match in two sets.

The Decatur junior high A team also ran into trouble in its match with St. Joseph. The Lady Panthers dominated both sets, winning 25-20, 25-18, and taking that match in two sets.

For the night's final match, the Lady Bulldogs squared off against the Lady Griffins in a conference showdown. In the first set, both teams played on equal terms, with the lead exchanging hands twice, The match was tied at 23 each when Ozark Catholic managed to pull off two straight points, giving the Lady Griffins the first set, 25-23.

This was the only set the Lady Griffins won. Decatur's front line, led by Annabelle Bell, went to work and claimed the next two sets, 25-20, 25-18, giving the Lady Bulldogs a two-sets-to-one lead in the best three out of five.

In the fourth set, a real battle ensued, with neither team willing to give an inch. The set hinged on which team managed to put two points past the other. Finally, the Lady Bulldogs' front line was able to stave off the Lady Griffins' attacks and take the final set, 26-24, and the conference win three sets to one.

photo Larea Echeverria/Special to the Eagle Observer Lady Bulldog Annabelle Bell (right) and Brooklyn Todd tried to block the ball and sent it back into Lady Griffin country during the Ozark Catholic Academy-Decatur volleyball match in Fayetteville on Sept. 12. The Lady Bulldogs took the conference win, three sets to one.