MENA - The Arkadelphia Lady Badgers volleyball team battled hard and left everything on the court in an evenly-matched 4A-West district tournament game at the Mena Middle School gymnasium on Monday afternoon against Malvern.
The Lady Badgers opened the match with an 11-1 rally that led to an overwhelming 25-13 win in Game 1. However, Malvern came back to take a 25-22 win in Game 2, held off a rally to win Game 3 25-22 and capped of the match with a come-from-behind 25-23 win.
Arkadelphia ends its season in the first round of the district tournament in the first season of blended conference play.
“We sure played hard tonight,” Lady Badgers head volleyball coach Jenny Coon said. “We had five point leads on them in the last two games and didn’t finish. We fought so hard and well to get those leads.”
The Lady Badgers raced out to an 8-0 lead before Malvern scored in Game 1. August McClure and Mollie Daniel both had kills while Indesia Eley had a tap over for a point and Abby White served an ace. The Lady Leopards were out on a block hit, called in for being in the net and had a double-hit.
McClure served an ace and Emilee Roberson had kill and a block for a point then Daniell blocked for another point and a 14-1 Arkadelphia lead.
Malvern came back to cut the lead to 16-7 before Roberson blocked a shot that fell on the Malvern side. Eley aced a serve, Roberson got a kill and Jamari Whitaker blocked a shot for a point to make it 20-9.
After Malvern got a point, a player in the front row was called for a line violation and a point went to Arkadelphia. White tapped over for a point and Eley got a block for a point. After Malvern got a point for the Lady Badgers hitting the net, McClure got a block and the game ended on Malvern hitting a shot into the net.
Malvern started with a 4-0 lead in Game 2, but the Lady Badgers rallied with a point from Daniell, a kill from McClure and a point from Eley. Five outs, a net violation and a double-hit ball by Arkadelphia put Malvern ahead 14-5, but Eley got another point, McClure and Whitaker both got kills and Whitaker got a block for a point and Daniell had a point over the defense to make it 16-14.
Three out hits and a net violation allowed Malvern to build a 20-14 lead, but the Lady Badgers rallied back with a kill from McClure, an ace from White and a kill from Eley to close the gap to 21-17. Eloy got another kill, Sallie Matthews served an ace, Roberson got a kill and White got a block to make it 24-22, but the ball hit the net for a violation on the last point, giving Malvern a 25-22 win.
In Game 3, McClure got a kill and Malvern hit the ball out. McClure got a point, Eley blocked for a point and McClure came back for another kill and a 5-0 lead for Arkadelphia. After Malvern cut it to 5-3, McClure came up with her third kill of the game and served an ace for a 7-3 lead.
Malvern came back to cut the lead to 7-6 before they served the ball into the net  and Whitaker got a kill. Malvern battled back to cut the lead to 11-10 before Whitaker got another point for Arkadelpia. McClure got a kill to make it 13-11 and later, Eley got a kill and McClure got a tip over the net to fall for a point to take it 16-13. Eley got a block for a point and Malvern errors allowed the Lady Badgers to post a 20-14 lead.
Two out of bounds hits by Arkadelphia, a ball hitting the ceiling an illegal shift and a block in the net later, Malvern had tied the game 20-20. Malvern got a point to take the lead, while the Lady Badgers hit the ball out of bounds twice before Roberson got a kill. Roberson got another kill that was called out after hitting the net and a Malvern player and ended the game 25-22 with Malvern ahead 2-1.
The Lady Badgers fell behind 1-0 in Game 4, but went ahead 4-1 when Eley and McClure got blocks and White served an ace. Malvern came back to close the gap to 6-5, but kills from Roberson and Whitaker kept Arkadelphia in front 12-9.
Lyndi Porter got a block fro a point, Daniell got a block, then the ball hit the celling again for Arkadelphia for a 15-11 advantage. Malvern came back to tie the game 17-17 on two outs and two net infractions from the Lady Badgers.
McClure came back for a kill and served an ace for a 19-17 lead. Malvern rallied back to take a 20-19 lead on a block out of bounds and two more net violations. A net violation by Malvern tied the game 20-20 and two points from Whitaker and a kill from Whitaker put Arkadelphia in front 23-22. Malvern came back with a kill and to net violations ended the game 25-23.
“Hopefully, we will learn from this and know how to finish next year,” Coon said. “The seniors didn’t go out the way they wanted.”