Lady Mohawks Finish in Final Four
The Piggott Lady Mohawk volleyball team ended their season Thursday, Oct. 30, losing to Mansfield in the semi-finals of the state 3A tournament at Harrison. For the Tribe, they finish with an overall record of 18-5, with an outright 3A-Northeast conference championship and a final-four appearance to show for their effort. But, down deep Coach Nikki Speer, who has made the championship match as both a player and a coach, is well aware the squad could have just as easily brought home the title.
In the first round of the tournament the Mohawks took on Lavaca, a team which had eliminated the Mohawks several times in recent history. But, this year the Tribe had the stronger game, rolling over the Lady Arrows in straight sets 25-22, 25-12 and 27-25.
The win over Lavaca earned the Mohawks a second round appearance, and a match with the Lady Wildcats of Episcopal. And, once again the Lady Mohawks prevailed, taking the match in straight sets 25-18, 25-19 and 25-23. Leading the way for the Mohawks was MaKalia Beck with 6 blocks, 4 aces and 2 kills while McKenzie Hopkins finished with 6 hits and 2 blocks. Rounding out the effort were Bailey Pollard, Abby Holcomb and Shelby Chavez with 6 digs each.
"The girls played really well, they played really "up" and I felt they were at the peak of their game for the season so I was really proud of them," Speer said of the team's performance at Harrison. "We went through the first rounds pretty easy, won them both 3-0, but when it came to the last game of that first match it was a little bit more of a battle. But, I'm proud of them--they never gave up and they played really hard all the way through."
The victory over Episcopal punched the Tribe's ticket to the final four, and they squared-off Thursday afternoon against Mansfield for a chance to advance to the championship match. The Lady Tigers had rolled through the bracket as well, beating Alpena and Conway Christian in straight sets to advance to the semi's.
Meanwhile, in the lower half of the bracket the Walnut Ridge Lady Bobcats advanced to the semi-finals, and a match with Paris, as the final four was made up entirely of teams from 3A Northeast and West.
In their match with Mansfield the Lady Mohawks fell in straight sets, losing 22-25, 15-25 and 26-28 as they were eliminated. Pacing the Tribe was Colby Crossfield with 15 assists, while MaKalia Beck finished with 10 kills and senior McKenzie Hopkins had 14 blocks.
"Mansfield was pretty strong, and they have a legacy of winning so those girls know what it takes," Speer said of the season ending loss. "And, when my girls learn exactly what it takes, I think we'll create a legacy ourselves."
In the lower half of the bracket the Lady Bobcats were also eliminated by Paris, setting up an all 3A-West match for the championship on Saturday.
"I'm losing seven seniors, and they all played a big part this year on the team," Speer said of the campaign. "But, I'll be gaining at least seven or more freshmen, so I'm hoping they can step up and help us out next year. We're still very good, we have some strong girls on the "B" team and that's one of the things that makes us good. When we play against each other we get a lot of good game time in and that provides good competition for us."
As for the championship match on Saturday in Hot Springs, it was Mansfield in four sets over Paris 17-25, 25-16, 25-23 and 25-23 as they took home the 3A title.
But, for the Lady Mohawks there was very little time to rest on their laurels as they hit the gym Monday morning to begin offseason conditioning. "We got right back at it with off-season, and we're going to stay in shape and continue working hard," Speer added.
With the season ending loss at state the Lady Mohawks bid farewell to the class of 2015, including McKenzie Hopkins, Bailey Pollard, Shelby Chavez, Abby Holcomb, Jessie Mallard, Alexa DeHart and Quest Emerson.
But, for coach Speer and assistant Melissa Hopkins-Turner, they'll continue to work toward taking the program to the next level as the team strives to establish their own championship legacy.