By Greg Perkins
The Lady Wildcats of Joseph City turned a great week of practice prior to the state playoffs into a deep tournament run before having their season closed out in the semifinal round of the Division V State Volleyball Playoffs.
Facing 10th seeded Ft. Thomas, the seventh ranked Lady Wildcats jumped out early despite taking the court at 8 a.m. last Friday at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, and cruised to a 25-9 first game victory. They stayed in control throughout the match, winning the second game 25-14 and advancing in the bracket with a 25-17 win in game three.
Facing second seed Joy Christian in round two that evening the Lady Wildcats again started quickly, taking the first game 25-16. The higher ranked Lady Eagles gave them a tougher battle in game two, but Joseph City prevailed 25-21, taking a big lead in the match. After falling behind by as many as nine points in game three the Lady Wildcats battled back to make a game of it, but saw their lead cut in half with a 26-24 loss. Game four went much the same as the previous game, with Joseph City starting slowly and again battling back to make it close before falling 27-25, forcing a decisive final game five. In the finale, both teams again battled tough, but the Lady Cats were able to advance with a 15-10 win against the higher seed.
“I was so proud of our girls. They never gave up. They knew they had it in them,” said Coach Kent Baldwin.
In the semifinal round the Lady Cats met up with third seeded Valley Lutheran in another early morning contest on Saturday. Like the previous morning, the Lady Cats came out of the gate quickly, building a good lead against the Lady Flames. That lead vanished late in the game, but Joseph City was able to hang on to secure a 27-25 win. The second game went back and forth, with Valley Lutheran eventually pulling out to win 25-19, tying the match at one game each. The third game was a tough loss for Joseph City. With some calls not going their way the Lady Cats lost their mental focus and suffered a 25-13 defeat, falling behind 2-1 in the match. With their backs against the wall they needed a win in game four to keep their season alive, but despite a huge effort they came up short, losing the game 25-19 and the match 3-1 and bringing their season to a close.
“Game four was the hardest my girls played all year; they were digging the ball all over the court. They played their hearts out,” said Coach Baldwin. “I was so very proud of the way my girls played this weekend. They gave all they could. They left it all out on the court. As a first-year coach, they taught me a lot, and they bought into my philosophy and coaching methods. It was a lot of fun to spend the past three months and endless hours working and watching these young ladies play volleyball.”
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By Greg Perkins