VAN VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS!

Lady Panthers rebound after first loss, claim undefeated run and championship title

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Carthage def. Bullard 25-19, 25-15, 25-18

The Bullard Lady Panther varsity volleyball team prowled its way onto the court to start the 2017 season last week, as the team traveled to face off against the Carthage Lady Bulldogs Tuesday, Aug. 8, at Carthage High School.

In the first set of play, the Lady Panthers scratched and clawed on both sides of the ball, but it was the home team Lady Bulldogs who were able to hold on and claim the set win, 25-19.

The Lady Panthers looked to pounce back into contention during the second set, using every weapon available to them. However, the Lady Bulldogs were too much for the Lady Panthers to overcome, beating the Lady Panthers in the second set, 25-15.

In the third set, Bullard battled hard to keep the contest close in score, but Carthage's strong offensive power overwhelmed Bullard's defense, as the Lady Bulldogs claimed the victory I the game in three sets, 25-19, 25-15, 25-18.

For the Lady Panthers, senior setter Destinee Dixon was a valuable asset against the Lady Bulldogs, contributing a total of 16 assists, 14 digs, and three blocks.

Other significant contributors for the Lady Panthers against the Lady Bulldogs included sophomore outside hitter Sara McKeethan, with nine kills, 15 digs, and four blocks; senior defensive specialist Kailan Bellew, with 13 digs; and junior middle blocker Ashlyn Meador, with seven kills and four blocks.

Van Tournament:
Pool play - Bullard goes 3-0

After the team's loss to the Carthage Lady Bulldogs Tuesday, the Lady Panther varsity volleyball team regrouped and traveled to compete in the Van Volleyball Tournament Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11-12, at Van High School.

In pool play, the Lady Panthers were placed in the White AM Pool and faced off against fellow pool teams Van Lady Vandals, Eustace Lady Bulldogs, and Winona Lady Wildcats.

The Lady Panthers were a force to be reckoned with during pool play at the Van Volleyball Tournament, claiming a record of 3-0 and advancing to the tournament's gold championship bracket with wins over Winona (25-20, 25-18), Van (25-18, 25-20), and Eustace (25-21, 25-16).  

During pool play, the Lady Panthers were led by the contribution of Sara McKeethan, who provided the team with 20 kills and 15 digs.

Other significant contributors for the Lady Panthers in pool play were Dixon, with 24 assists and 12 digs; sophomore setter Kylie McKeethan, with 15 assists and five digs; freshman outside hitter/right side hitter Keili Richmond, with 12 kills and eight digs; senior outside hitter Kailey Consford, with nine kills and two blocks; and junior defensive specialist Erin Monreal, with seven digs.

Gold Bracket:
Bullard claims 3-0 record, Championship title

In the Van Volleyball Tournament's Gold Bracket play on Saturday, the Lady Panthers looked to climb up the ladder of the bracket and challenge their competitors for the championship.

The Lady Panthers faced off against strong competition while competing in the Van Volleyball Tournament, battling against the Marshall Lady Mavericks, Mount Pleasant Lady Tigers, and Van Lady Vandals.

Thanks to wins against Marshall (25-20, 25-18) and Mount Pleasant (25-17, 25-17), the Lady Panthers found themselves in the tournament's championship game against the home team Van.

The championship matchup between the Lady Panthers and Lady Vandals saw a 45 minute break near the end of the first set due to all athletes and attendees seeking shelter during a tornado warning.

After retaking the court and allowing both teams to warm up again, the Lady Panthers claimed the first set victory against the Lady Vandals, 25-20.

In the second set of the championship bout, the Lady Panthers and Lady Vandals continued to fight hard and steal the momentum from each other, as the Bullard team found themselves trailing Van, 14-21, then rallying to tie the contest, 22-22.

 The Lady Panthers and Lady Vandals continued fighting well past the usual 25-point mark, throwing every weapon, both offensively and defensively, at each other. Despite the long fight for the win, the Lady Panthers proved to be too strong for the Lady Vandals, as Bullard claimed the victory and Championship title against Van, 30-29.

The strong play of Sara McKeethan on both sides of the ball helped the Lady Panthers to claim the recognition of champions, contributing a total of 24 kills, 19 digs, and two blocks.

Other significant contributors for the Lady Panthers against the Lady Vandals included Consford, with 14 kills and six blocks; Dixon, with 29 assists, 11 digs, and two blocks; Richmond, with 12 kills, nine digs, and one ace; Bellew, with 10 digs; Kylie McKeethan, with 24 assists and three aces; and Meador, with nine kills and five blocks.

"Winning the Van Tournament was just a huge blessing and amazing accomplishment for this young group," said Cristy O'Bannon, Bullard Lady Panther volleyball head coach. "They fought through some adversity in the second set, falling behind about six points and having to battle their way back and to finish off with a 30-29 victory. It was just an amazing feat; these girls played very hard and played their hearts out and came together as a family, not just as a team. We didn't drop a set all tournament, which is a notch in this team's belt showing what they can accomplish when they come together. This group is on a roll and I couldn't be more proud of how we have started the 2017 season." 

The Bullard Lady Panther varsity volleyball team has begun the 2017 season with a record of 6-1.

Next games: Tuesday, Aug. 15 - Bullard at Canton/Scurry dual in Canton; Friday, Aug. 18 - Bullard at Sabine. 

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