The Cabot Lady Panthers are headed back to the state volleyball tournament.
Cabot beat Little Rock Central in four games then swept Searcy last week to earn the fifth seed from the 7A-Central. The Lady Panthers will play Springdale Har-Ber in the first round next Tuesday at Rogers Heritage High School. Game time is noon.
Because of the convoluted point system used to rank teams, Cabot had to win at least two games against Central to qualify for the state tournament.
Cabot beat Central in four games: 25-18, 18-25, 25-20, 25-23.
"After the fact, we told them we had to win that," Cabot coach DeAnna Campbell said of telling her team after beating the Lady Tigers. "They got really excited and were cheering. It was a lot of fun.
"The girls have worked so hard to get this thing turned around from the beginning of last year."
A year ago, Cabot won only one conference match — beating Central in the old CHS gymnasium.
Campbell was proud of the way her team found a way to win the close games against Central.
"With Jonesboro, we were there but dropped them both times," she said. "To be there again and get it, it was exciting."
In the win over Central, Lakin Best had 12 kills, 14 digs and six aces. Bailee Uhiren had nine kills and 12 assists. Brylee Staten had 15 assists and five aces. Hannah Montgomery had 15 digs and four aces. Sam Mantione and Kaitlyn Pitman had five blocks each.
Cabot beat Searcy 25-8, 25-5, 25-7 on Thursday to improve to 12-16 on the season.
If Cabot beats Har-Ber, it will play Conway in the second round on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at noon.
Cabot played Lake Hamilton in the regular-season finale Tuesday at Panther Arena.
"Because the state tournament was pushed back a week, we were told we could schedule one extra varsity match," Campbell said. "They [Lady Wolves] are a very competitive team. We’ll have to play hard to play with them."
Campbell said she thinks the Lake Hamilton match will help her team get ready for Har-Ber.
"Our kids are excited because we’re not having to come in and play a No. 1 seed," she said. "Playing a No. 4 when you’re a No. 5 makes it realistic that it is attainable."
Campbell said Har-Ber has played competitively against similar teams this year.
"Our kids are motivated and ready to go," she said. "We might win or we might lose but at least there’s a chance we could do either."