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Lady Airedales drop heartbreaker 9/23/22

Lady Airedales drop heartbreaker

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 

 

So close. 

 

Alma volleyball coach Kim Weaver has been searching for a signature victory. The third-year coach nearly got just that in Thursday’s five-set loss to Greenwood. 

 

The Lady Airedales had struggled at home for much of the fall, dropping a pair of five-set matches to Vilonia and Gravette, and getting blanked by powerhouse Hackett and Harrison. 

 

On Thursday, Alma forced a fifth set with a gritty 25-21 win in the fourth game. Then, up 15-14, Alma had a chance to beat the Lady Bulldogs for the first time since 2010. 

 

But Greenwood (16-2, 6-0) rallied late in the fifth set to prevail 18-25, 25-15, 25-9, 21-25, 18-16. 

 

“After struggling so much in the second and third (sets), I was super impressed with how we were able to manage our composure and regain a lot of the momentum,” Weaver said. “I’m super proud that we didn’t quit, which this group is resilient. They’re not going to stop until that last point.”

 

Alma, which wraps up the first round of 5A-West play next week with the longest road trips of the season — back-to-back trips to Mountain Home and Harrison. 

 

Jenna Williams led the Lady Airedales (1-5) with a season-high 19 kills and 12 digs. She was hardly alone. 

 

Alma used a strong blocking game to pull away in the first set and to prevail in the fourth game. Samantha Crook had four of Alma’s season-high 13 blocks. 

 

Sophomore Julia Nutt finished with a team-high 18 digs and 13 assists. Senior Jocelyn Harless finished with 16 digs, and steady senior Rachel James finished with 16 assists, 15 digs, and five kills. James also had three blocks. 

 

Sophomore Mabrey Birchfield and junior Miranda Gibson finished with 12 and 10 digs, respectively. 

 

Alma, which has had a habit of blowing late leads, won the opener, 25-18, only to see Greenwood — whose only losses are to nationally-ranked Fayetteville and Bentonville — dominate the next two sets. 

 

Alma said not so fast. 

 

“I was telling them, there’s not a team in the state we don’t belong on the court with,” Weaver said. “But to understand that comes a responsibility to battle every point, and the bar has been raised for us. This is a monumental moment, to battle to a fifth set with Greenwood, but the expectation is to win, and that’s still ahead of us.”

 

Alma led 5-3 in the fifth set before falling behind, 12-8. 

 

Sparked by Mia Nichols’ four kills, the Lady Airedales battled back to tie it, then after falling behind, 14-12, scored three straight points to grab a 15-14 lead. 

 

Williams and Gibson contributed to the blocking foray with three and two blocks, respectively.