ROGERS — Springdale Har-Ber got the fast start it was looking for at the Class 7A State Volleyball Tournament.
Har-Ber won the first set handily and swept to a 3-0 victory over Cabot in the opening game Oct. 30 at Rogers Heritage High School.
Har-Ber beat Cabot in three consecutive games, 25-15, 25-20, and 25-17. The Lady Wildcats, who’ve lost some games this season because of slow starts, grabbed leads of 14-8 and 22-15 in the first game to prompt timeouts by Cabot, the No. 5 seed from the 7A/6A-Central Conference.
In each stretch, Har-Ber was led by Carley McGaugh, who finished the game with eight kills. The senior outside hitter slammed a ball hard off a Cabot defender on one play and it came back to her. She then dropped it lightly over the net for a point before Miranda Kelly ended the match with consecutive aces
"Our athletic director (Wayne Stehlik) gave our girls a motivational talk about playing every play to win, and that’s what we did," Har-Ber coach Sandy Jones said. "That was our theme. To get started early and make plays."
Emily Coats led Har-Ber with nine kills and sophomore Kim Huff added seven. Anna Hudgeons finished with 10 digs and Tayleah Neal four blocks for the Lady Wildcats (22-11), who are the No. 4 seed from the 7A/6A-West Conference.
Haylee Callison finished with 10 kills for Cabot (13-17), which played without four girls who were hurt in a car accident last week. Three of the girls watched the game at home via Internet streaming and another watched from her hospital bed in Little Rock.
"We were missing two starters and two other girls who help us a lot," Cabot coach DeAnna Campbell said. "When you have to make last-minute adjustments it’s tricky. But these kids pulled together and gave everything they had. To leave their friends at home, and come any way, that was phenomenal what they did."
Cabot forced a tight game in the second match and falling behind 15-8. The Lady Panthers made a move behind two aces by Brylee Staten and got to within 18-17. Har-Ber eased ahead again before Cabot cut its deficit to 23-20. But Har-Ber was able to maintain its lead and won 25-20 after another kill by McCaugh..
"Carley doesn’t talk a whole lot, but she’s a sold player who really stepped up," Jones said. "She’s a big leader for us right now."
Har-Ber overcame an early deficit in Game Three to pull ahead 9-8. The Lady Wildcats continued to pull away and won 25-17 after a kill by Neal, a senior middle blocker.