It took some great effort but the Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits are going back to the state volleyball tournament for the 12th consecutive season.
Lonoke rallied from an 0-2 deficit to beat Clinton 3-2 in the second round of the 4A-Central Tournament on Monday at Gina Cox Center. It was Clinton’s second match of the day as the Lady Yellowjackets swept Pulaski Robinson in the previous match.
"I was very proud of the girls … that was the first time all year that we’ve done that," Lonoke coach Laura Park said, referring to rallying from an 0-2 deficit. "We’ve done it in the past. It shows me what they are made of."
Lonoke lost the first two games 25-22, 26-24.
The Lady Jackrabbits trailed 9-4 before forcing a sideout, making the score 9-5.
Lonoke’s Charley Jo Chesney then served eight consecutive winners to give the Lady Jackrabbits a 13-9 lead.
Chesney eventually served the final three points, which included two kills by Emily Moore, as the Lady Jackrabbits took the third game 25-17.
Lonoke scored the first three points of the fourth game on the serve of Haylee Whitehurst. The Lady Jackrabbits pushed their lead to 14-4 on the serve of Paola Negrete.
Clinton appeared to have some momentum, pulling to within 16-10 on the serve of Abby Patterson. However, Patterson served out of turn and three points were taken off the board following a sideout, giving Lonoke a 17-7 lead.
Lonoke pulled away for a 25-11 win.
In the fifth game, it was close for a while as Lonoke trailed 4-3 but tied it at 4-4 on a block and hit by Eboni Willis. Lonoke’s McKenzie Clement served four winners to give her team an 8-4 lead.
Clinton made a late rally, pulling to within two at 13-11 but Lonoke got the win, 15-11.
Park said it crept into her mind that her team might not make it to the state tournament during Monday’s match.
"As a realist, you think about everything," she said. "I guess I’m an eternal optimist. I always had faith. I expect the girls to rise above. If there is a way, they will find it and that is what they did."
The Lady Jackrabbits were swept by Central Arkansas Christian in the semifinals Tuesday at the Gina Cox Center. The played in the third-place game Wednesday against Marianna.
Lonoke will play in the Class 4A state tournament next week in Mena. If the Lady Jackrabbits finish third, they will play Tuesday at noon. If they are fourth, they will play Tuesday at 6 p.m.