Sabine Clinches a Playoff Berth with Four-Game Win vs. Arp on Senior Night
LIBERTY CITY -- Arp gave Sabine plenty of trouble early, but the Lady Cardinals recovered to notch a 25-27, 25-23, 25-23, 25-19 victory on senior night.
The win pushed Sabine, which was ranked No. 27 in Monday's expanded Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 2A poll, to 27-9 overall and 9-3 in District 18-2A and clinched a postseason berth for the Lady Cardinals.
Haley Stuart delivered a big performance in her final home match. Stuart led Sabine with 17 kills, six blocks, and eight digs, while classmate Tylia Sylestine added 12 kills, two aces, and 17 digs. Fellow senior Brittany Terry had seven kills one block, two aces, and a team-high 23 digs.
Sabine built Game 1 leads of 17-9 and 20-15 before Arp (13-22, 7-5) stormed back for a 27-25 win and 1-0 match lead. Sabine faced game points in Games 2 and 3 but edged the Lady Tigers to take a 2-1 advantage to Game 4, when an 18-7 start propelled the Lady Cards to the four-set victory, which avenged a five-game loss at Arp on Sept. 28.
"I think they realized that Arp is a good team. They kinda woke up and decided we were gonna have to play," said Sabine coach Rickey Hammontree of the Lady Cardinals' improved play as the match progressed. "It wasn't as clean as we wanted it to be. It's gonna have to be a lot cleaner when the playoffs get here, but I'm just glad to get away with a win because Arp's a good team and she (Arp coach Leigh Ann Roberts) does a great job."
Sabine sophomore Jayden Mount had 24 assists and eight digs. Senior Skyllar Richter finished with three kills, two blocks, two assists, and four digs, while classmate Emily Ivins had two kills, 10 assists, three aces, and seven digs. Senior Kasie Bell had one kill, three blocks, three assists, and three digs.
Sophomore Shelby Burns had five kills, three blocks, one ace, and five digs. Junior Logan Davis had 14 digs.
"We've kinda been on a rollercoaster. We've had issues that we've gotten squared away and I think we're heading in the right direction," Hammontree said. "Right now I feel good about (the team heading toward the playoffs)."
Junior Kaci Kuykendall led Arp with seven kills and three digs, while freshman India Holland had five kills, six aces, and 18 digs. Freshman Briana Medlock had five kills. Junior Megan Campbell finished with four kills and three digs.
Junior Alicia Summers recorded a team-high 19 assists. Classmate Sydney Hall had three aces and 15 digs. Sophomore Mikayla Frost had 13 digs and senior Mandy Alibrando had nine.
Stuart and Sylestine led Sabine's Game 1 charge that resulted in the 17-9 lead, but Holland had two kills and an ace down the stretch to help Arp close the gap and eventually steal a 27-25 win.
Holland and Medlock had one kill apiece and Summers served an ace during Arp's 6-0 Game 2 run that erased a 21-16 deficit and gave the Lady Tigers the lead. But this time, Sabine finished strong, getting kills from Burns and Sylestine to close the match with a 3-1 run, 25-23.
Kuykendall had four kills to lead Arp to a 19-15 Game 3 lead before Sabine fought back with a 4-0 run -- including a Terry ace and Stuart kill -- to tie the match. Arp led 21-19 and 23-22, but Sylestine got another timely kill to tie the game before a service error ended it for a 2-1 Lady Cardinal match advantage.
Stuart had four kills and one block to stake Sabine to the double-digit Game 4 lead. Hall had an ace during an 8-0 Arp run with her at the service line that got the Lady Tigers back in the game, leading to Sabine's edge dwindling to 21-19 before a Terry kill ended the rally and started a 4-0 Lady Cardinal run to end the match.
Sabine visits Frankston on Friday before concluding the regular season Tuesday at Winona. Hawkins hosts Arp on Friday, while the Lady Tigers host West Rusk in Tuesday's regular-season finale.