FARMINGTON -- Farmington volleyball coach Greg Pair celebrated a signature win in his first year at the helm of a program continuing to pursue excellence despite three coaching changes since 2013.
Farmington's 5-set District 4A-1 volleyball tournament road win (25-23, 19-25, 13-25, 26-24, 15-8) at Berryville on Tuesday, Oct. 20, becomes a standard for the program.
Pair praised the play of junior outside hitter Morgan Brye, whose aggressive attacks carried the Lady Cardinal offense in crucial stages of the match. Farmington fought off elimination coming from behind to win the fourth set and get into a tiebreaker with an opportunity to win.
"She started swinging at the ball and there was nothing they could do about it," Pair said. "Morgan led us with 15 kills with only two hitting errors. That was phenomenal."
Pair admitted situations occurred during the match when momentum appeared stacked against the Lady Cardinals.
"We won the first set and lost the next two. The third set, we lost it, 25-13, I thought, 'Oh man,'" Pair said. "I was so proud of the girls. It got real bleak there a few times, but they answered the bell."
Farmington jumped out to a 9-1 lead in the fourth set, but things didn't look good for the Lady Cardinals as blocks by junior Faith Kelley and 6-1 Berryville senior Ella McMellon bolstered Berryville to a 20-14 lead in game-four. Coming out of a time-out, Farmington fashioned a mini 4-1 run to close within 21-18. Compton's kill ended the mini-run, and Lexi Woods pounded a kill to bring Berryville to game-point.
"It was a roller coaster. We were up 9-1. They came back and got up 20-14. We did close the gap. We caught up to within 21-19 and 22-20. Now, we're going back and forth," Pair said. "Sometimes during a match you get to a point where you're going back and forth, but we're at a point where we can't afford to do that down 24-21."
Farmington continued to rally narrowing the gap to 24-22 getting contributions all over the court.
"Morgan got a kill and Addison Fenton in the middle of the back-row made a lot of good passes," Pair said.
Brye's kill drew the Lady Cardinals within, 24-23, and Berryville mistakes helped Farmington. The Lady Bobcats hit from the back-row out-of-bounds to tie the game 24-24.
"We got to a point where our back-row was getting good balls to our setters," Pair said. "We set Morgan again. She got the last three kills for us."
Avoiding A Block
Brye's success pushed the Lady Cardinals ahead, 25-24. Berryville countered by bringing McMellon to the net contesting Farmington hits. With Farmington at game-point a long volley ensued with both teams battling for the next decisive score which went to Farmington on an improvised play.
"We got a free-ball. Our setter, Brooke Purifoy, had to do a bump-set. Morgan usually hits deep-cross or middle-cross and she went short-cross," Pair said. "Their big, tall blocker [McMellon] got really aggressive trying to stop Morgan. She came across and Morgan adjusted well to hit around that block and there was nobody there."
Farmington refusal to go away propelled its rally for a come-from-behind 26-24 win to keep its state tournament hopes alive and force a fifth set tiebreaker.
Fifth Set Heroics
Sensing the opportunity at hand, Farmington jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the fifth set. Berryville fought back cutting the Lady Cardinals' lead to 5-4, then Farmington scored three straight to take an 8-4 lead.
Farmington dodged a bullet when libero Sydney Gabbard had the ball shank off her arms. Fenton chased it down at the basketball back court and kept the ball in play allowing the Lady Cardinals to clear it over the net on a free-ball. Berryville set up their outside hitter, only to have Farmington senior Madison Cox record a block-kill.
On the next volley, Kelley's kill for Berryville made the score 10-6 in Farmington's favor.
Farmington endured another extended volley by going to Brye, whose hit skimmed off the net and dropped for a kill giving the Lady Cardinals an 11-6 advantage.
Farmington found itself in a quandary with Brye rotating to the back-row to serve and Berryville got the next point.
"At that point we're trying to figure out where we're going to get our offense because she'd been the one producing," Pair said.
Another Lady Bobcat point reduced the margin to 11-8 and Pair invoked a time-out telling his team, "Girls, we got to get four before they get seven. It's as simple as that."
"I look at these girls in the huddle and their eyes just say, 'We got this,' and to be honest it hasn't always been that way this season," Pair said.
A service error by Berryville allowed the Lady Cardinals to get within two points of winning the match, leading 13-8. Fenton pounded a kill off Purifoy's set and Berryville was called for a double-hit on a serve-receive.
Pair explained the rare call occurred because the ball hit one hand then the other of the Lady Bobcat receiving the serve.
Farmington claimed a 15-8 victory and earned a hard-fought trip to state.
The feat seems even improbable when looking at the statistics of Berryville senior Lauren Compton or the Lady Bobcats' season sweep of Farmington. According to a recent Player-of-the-Week award, Compton's senior season could only be described as one of the best in Lady Bobcat history.
"Her accomplishments this season will forever go down in the record books of the Berryville High School volleyball program. Lauren has been awarded All-State, All-Conference and she is an All-Star nominee. Over their 13-6 season Lauren Compton racked up an incredible 301 kills, 256 digs, 39 aces, and 18 blocks."
Compton broke a 20-20 tie in the first set by serving back-to-back aces staking the Lady Bobcats out to a 22-20 lead, but Farmington fought back to win the first set, 25-23.
A trio of blocks, two by McMellon and another from Kelley put Berryville in front, 5-1, in the second set, and Berryville evened the match, 1-1, with a 25-19 win.
Compton's kill from the outside hitter position stretched Berryville's lead in the third set to 10-3. Kelley's block-kill brought Berryville to game-point, at 24-13, in the third set and the Lady Bobcats won 25-13 taking a 2-1 lead to put Farmington on the verge of elimination.
Several Lady Cardinals added major contributions: Fenton, 11 kills; Jaidan Duffy, 4 kills and 5 blocks; Cox, 4 blocks highlighted by a key block-kill in the fourth set; and Paige Thorton, 4 kills.
The win advanced Farmington into the 4A-1 Conference semifinals and secured a berth in the 2020 Class 4A State tournament.