Beckville Sweeps Fruitvale + Advances To Class 2A Regional Semifinals
LONGVIEW -- Beckville has not had many problems this season, but under the big lights at Lobo Coliseum the young team found itself in early trouble.
It opened the first set of Tuesday's Class 2A Region III quarterfinal game against Fruitvale down 12-5. Beckville didn't let a small issue become a giant problem though. It rallied to win the first set and the next two for a 25-21, 25-12, 25-19 sweep.
"I think a lot of it was nerves," Beckville head coach Cherry Downs said. "This is our third game in this gym, the other two being in the regional tournament and two being losses. We had some animosity coming into this gym and I was so glad we got to come in here."
Downs' team needs to feel comfortable in Longview. Lobo Coliseum is the host site for the regional semifinals and championship game, the final games on the slate before the state tournament in Garland.
Beckville will be back to play Iola at 2 p.m. Friday. If it wins that game, it will face either Avery or Centerville on Saturday with a state semifinal berth on the line.
Fruitvale, the District 18-2A champion with an overall record of 26-8, entered the game as a marginal underdog. It did have an upperclassmen advantage though with four seniors on an 11-person team.
Beckville, the District 20-2A champion with a 35-8 record, reached the regional quarterfinal with two seniors, seven juniors and two sophomores.
Things did not start off great for the favored team. Fruitvale closed a 10-3 run with a 12-5 lead in the first set.
Beckville was able to get back within three points to trail 20-17. Then Carson Blair, a junior hitter, held serve for seven straight points, including three aces in the stretch, to flip the playoff match. An error on the first set point allowed Fruitvale back within 24-21, but Kinley Blair sealed the opening frame with a block.
"It just took the determination to do it," Carson Blair said. "We just said we could, so we did. We're all friends, we all love each other and we're working hard to take us as far as we can go."
The second set picked up where the first game left off. Kinley Blair served for nine straight points for a 9-0 opening run. She had three aces in that timeframe.
Fruitvale scored 12 points the entire set.
The third set featured nine lead changes and was tied as late as 17-17.
Fruitvale's season came to an end when it surrendered seven of the match's final nine points. The last two points it scored were Beckville errors.
Beckville finished Tuesday with 42 points won on their own serves. The team combined for 10 aces and only misfired on 8 of 73 serves.
"We're usually consistent, tough servers," Downs said. "We're usually consistent and competitive from the net as well. Those are our two strong points. We missed more serves tonight than I would like, eight, and I think we can do better than that. I talked to the team about being more consistent for the tough game we're going to have on Friday."
Kinley Blair led the team with four aces, followed by Carson Blair's three. Kimber Wesner, Natalie Morris and senior Stacie Brevard chipped in one ace apiece.
Carson Blair led Beckville in the kill department with nine and only missed one hit the entire match. Kassidy Alexander put up a team-best 35 assists.
Karen Crane led a well-rounded Fruitvale effort with six kills in her final high school match. Unfortunately, a fairly decent 24 errors over three games were too much to overcome.
With so many players returning to Beckville's roster next season, the future looks very bright.
Even better, the team thinks it's ready to take the biggest steps yet toward the state tournament right now.
"It's been a great season," Brevard said. "The team is young, and that's hard to overcome. We've been able to do that. We've come together as a team and been able to build ourselves up."