YELLVILLE — The Quitman Lady Bulldog volleyball team made their first ever state tournament appearance against a program that is no stranger to postseason success last Tuesday, falling to defending state champion Crowley’s Ridge Academy by a 3-0 score in the opening round of the Class 2A State Tournament hosted by Yellville-Summit.
Both squads battled back and forth over the course of the first set as Quitman took an early 7-5 lead on a kill from sophomore Jadie Langston, before the momentum swung in favor of the Lady Falcons at 13-10 on a kill from senior Emi Elms. THe Lady Bulldogs would eventually knot it up at 15-15 before Elms carried the torch for CRA, reeling off an 8-2 run that saw Elms, sophomore Reagan Howard and junior Josie Widick all come through with kills to win 25-17.
The home team found themselves with an 11-4 advantage on five kills from Elms, however the Lady Bulldogs battled back to knot it at 13-13 on a serve from sophomore Maddie Thompson in part of a 9-2 run. CRA responded with an 12-1 spread that included kills from seniors Mattie Hardin and Lily Newsom for a 25-14 triumph. Freshman Silver Mulliniks led Quitman with five kills in the set.
Mulliniks led off the third set with a kill en route to a 5-3 lead, but the advantage was short-lived after the Lady Falcons grabbed the lead at 9-8 and never looked back after Hardin scored on three serves and added a kill before freshman Mallory Hollis added four more points on serves as part of a 16-1 scoring run, capping the contest off with a kill from Elms.
Elms led CRA (23-11) with 27 total kills and 16 digs as Mulliniks paced Quitman with 10 kills.
“I’m extremely proud of these girls,” said Quitman head coach and superintendent Dennis Truxler. “I was talking to my brother who is a retired coach and he talked about how hard they played and hustled and got in the right positions. He said if you had [Elms], you would be hard to handle, and we know that but I wouldn’t trade my girls for anyone.”
Quitman finishes the season with an 8-12 record, going 5-6 in 2A Central play to clinch the fourth and final seed to make it to the big dance. The Lady Bulldogs will graduate Gracie Smith, Hanna Hartwick, Kaliean Rohrschieb and Drew Benton and will return lone junior Kassie Rhodes, sophomores Taylor Hooten, Madi Thompson, Katelyn Black, Jadie Langston, Riley Drake and Paige Fenley as well as freshman Silver Mulliniks and more of her classmates. The Jr. Lady Bulldogs finished the 2018 season with an undefeated record of 17-0, winning the 2A Central league title.
“I told these girls to be proud that they made it here knowing they are the first team in program history to do that, and to build upon it,” added Truxler. “We had one freshmen and four sophomores out there at one time and have a good freshmen class that will be sophomores next year that will help us and give us more depth.”