FARMINGTON -- A 13-3 surge put Farmington in control of the first set and the Lady Cardinals never looked back in sweeping Prairie Grove, 25-14, 25-14, 25-13, in 4A-1 volleyball action at Cardinal Arena Tuesday, Sept. 28.
"I felt like we played really, really consistent. Our back row passing did a really good job which let us stay in offense. We got to get a lot of swings in," said Farmington coach Greg Pair.
Farmington pulled away from an early 3-3 tie and doubled the Lady Tigers' score by taking a 16-8 lead. Kenleigh Elder's block helped Prairie Grove stay within 16-10 but Farmington got an ace from Zoe Nix and a big hit from Morgan Brye to reach game-point leading 24-13. The Lady Cardinals won on a service error by Prairie Grove.
"Farmington did really good tonight. They played strong; even out of system they were getting swings on the ball. Discipline-wise on their defense I was really impressed with their defense tonight," said Prairie Grove coach Lindsey Biocic. "I like to think I can usually find the weakness on the other team's defense and there wasn't much holes in their defense so I think they showed a good job of discipline on their defense."
The Lady Cardinals asserted themselves out of the gate in the second set, jumping out to an 8-2 lead. The Lady Cardinals were clicking on all cylinders, producing points via both offense and defense. Brye started the run with back-to-back kills then Prairie Grove couldn't handle a Farmington block and failed to get a second hit.
"Morgan Brye, she was on fire tonight. Most nights she usually is and sometimes you take it for granted that she's going to be so consistent out there, but she hit some balls that they just didn't have time to prepare for," Pair said.
Prairie Grove demonstrated its resilience capability by fashioning a 9-6 run. Junior Taylor Pierce scored twice off dinks as the Lady Tigers clawed back to reduce their deficit to 14-11.
Farmington returned the favor with senior Remington Adams notching a point followed by a Brye kill and Sydney Gabbard's ace countering with a 7-2 run.
"Remy did a good job of getting the ball to different hitters all night long so nobody got bored with it, and whenever you're moving the ball around it's hard for their defense to key on anybody," Pair said.
Prairie Grove sophomore Savannah Smith broke the run by smashing a kill to make it 21-14 before Farmington closed out the second set with four straight points to take game two, 25-14.
Trailing two games to none and facing elimination in the best of five match, Prairie Grove got off to a much better start in the third set. Senior Taci Vickery and sophomore Reese Powell worked the offense. Vickery had a dig and kill sandwiched around Powell's assist. Senior Hayden Vertz and Smith combined for consecutive block-kills and Kamrynn Coughran added a kill keeping the Lady Tigers close at 7-6.
Seven straight points by Farmington down the stretch sealed the Lady Tigers' fate. Brye's tip-kill, two kills by Nix and one from Piper Robinson fueled the run that gave Farmington a 22-10 advantage. Adams finished off the match catching Prairie Grove off-guard by pounding a kill to make the final, 25-13.
Biocic has worked an uphill battle throughout the season and while the Lady Tigers' record may not show it Biocic's priority comes across in teaching them to habitually seek out an avenue to success in the midst of adversity. Prairie Grove played without an injured starter, libero Kendall Pickett, and dealt with some girls restricted from participation due to covid.
"We are meeting challenge after challenge in Prairie Grove," Biocic said. "But the flip side of that is I've had some girls get the opportunity to step up. Kaylee Wilson, she's a sophomore and she got to step in that libero role while Kendall Pickett's out right now. I think she did a real good job for us."