FOUNTAIN LAKE -- Fountain Lake retained its first-place standing in the 4A-West conference Thursday night with a 3-1 victory over Bauxite at Irvin J. Bass Gymnasium.
After falling 22-25 in the first set, the Lady Cobras (16-2, 11-1) came back to claim three straight sets with scores of 25-16, 25-12 and 25-17.
In the first set, the Lady Miners (12-5, 9-4) caught the Lady Cobras off-guard with two straight aces and a kill from junior Haley Howard for an early 3-0 lead. More kills and an ace from junior Lindsey Cross put the visiting team out front 6-2.
Fountain Lake senior standout Presley Hamric helped pull the Lady Cobras back into the match to trail by two, but Bauxite regained its early momentum to jump ahead and take the 25-22 win with a kill from Cross.
"We had no energy," said Lake Fountain head coach Tina Moore of losing the first set. "Sometimes, I think, we start out and take people for granted, and we don't bring it when we need to. So we were a little shell-shocked, but we needed it to challenge us a little, and it kind of got their engines roaring. So it ended OK -- ended much better than it started for sure."
The momentum quickly switched in favor of the Lady Cobras in the second set. Hamric picked up several kills to give the hosts a 5-2 lead. A kill from sophomore Kara Martin gave the Lady Cobras a 19-10 lead midway through before a 4-for-5-serving sequence from Martin led them on to the 25-16 win.
Fountain Lake continued to dominate in the third set, taking a 3-0 lead after junior setter Sophie Skinner faked a set and hit an open spot for the kill. Her assist to senior Brooke Wyatt gave them the 25-12 victory.
Tied at 3-3 in the fourth set, an ace from Cross gave the Lady Miners their first lead since the second set. Skinner once again set up Hamric for the kill to regain the lead, sealing the win with a pass to senior Landry Cate for the kill.
"I think we struggled passing; that first set we struggled in a lot of things," said Moore. "I don't think we were very on point, so that was frustrating. But after that I thought we picked it up -- picked up the intensity really well. I think every part of our game (needs improving), but especially our back row ... that's where we've struggled the most. When we struggle offensively, it's strictly because of our passing game. ... So hopefully we'll get through those bugs. But it was a good ending. Good conference game for us. They came out fired up for this game. We've just all got to mesh and bring it at the same time. It's a fun group to coach."
Bauxite head coach Dave Carter noted he was proud of how his team played and how they fought despite the loss.
"I think that our girls came out much more ready to play, especially in the first set," he said. "We challenged them to play aggressively and cover the block, and they did that. They had some success. We gained some momentum and were able to hold off. Unfortunately, we weren't able to sustain that, but for a program that's never had a winning season, never gone to state, I'm really proud of the way we've grown, and we played this team extremely tough and successfully. You know, we just keep fighting."
Hamric tallied 17 kills with three blocks, one ace and one dig. Skinner had 33 assists, one dig, two kills and an ace, senior Patience Campbell had 11 kills, three digs, three blocks and two assists, and senior Carena Bledsoe finished with seven kills and two digs. Sophomore Kara Martin had nine kills, a dig and a block while senior Landry Cate tallied 11 kills, one block and an ace.
For Bauxite, sophomore Kayla Bubbus had 14 assists, Cross had 14 kills, two aces and nine blocks, and junior Haley Howard had 10 kills, three aces and two digs.
• Fountain Lake won the JV game 2-0 with scores of 25-15 and 25-13.
Junior Ava Compton had two aces, two assists and a kill, senior Brooke Wyatt had six kills and two blocks, and junior Elizabeth Roark had two assists and an ace. Sophomore Jocelyn Brown had four kills, two digs and an assist, senior Siera Peters had five kills, and junior Brayden White had three kills and two aces.
Fountain Lake also won the junior high match, 25-16, 25-22.
The Lady Cobras travel to Arkadelphia (3-4, 1-3) today at 10 a.m. starting with the eighth grade team followed by the freshman squad and the varsity team.