Greenwood was hoping to exact revenge Thursday against Russellville, which beat the Lady Bulldogs in the 6A volleyball title match last season.
But The Lady Cyclones turned back the Lady Bulldog as Russellville won the first two games of Thursday’s 7A/6A-Central match en route to 25-17, 25-23, 20-25, 25-14 victory.
“We rode the momentum in that third game and I thought we played really well. Momentum’s a big thing, and then it seems like we kind of came out flat and we just couldn’t get it picked up in that fourth (game),” Greenwood coach Jennifer Golden said.
“For the most part, I thought we played OK. There were times where I was screaming, ‘That’s where they’re going,’ and we still just couldn’t seem to get that in our heads. We would be there, but we wouldn’t be ready.”
With the Lady Bulldogs (7-7, 2-5 7A/6A-Central) coming off consecutive conference losses to Southside and to Conway, Golden altered her lineup going into Thursday’s match.
“I scrapped my lineup and started new (Thursday),” Golden said. “We didn’t change major things, we changed a few people on the front row and where they were going, one or two on the back row. But for the most part, it was the same core of people, we just kind of changed what we did and where we put them.
“I really think that kind of helped a little bit, so one day of practice and that under our belts, I thought we did pretty good.”
In the second game, with the Lady Cyclones (16-4, 5-2) leading 23-22, the Lady Bulldogs were called for a lift and Russellville finished the set on the next play to go two games up in the match.
Greenwood got a boost of momentum in the third game by putting together a 13-4 run. It was capped by an ace from Abbey Lejong and a kill from Madi Pfeifer as Greenwood led 21-12. Maddie Gilliam then put together two big kills to force a fourth game.
But in what proved to be the final game, it was all Russellville coming off a tough loss to Southside on Tuesday. A kill by Lady Cyclone junior Hunter Eshnaur began the scoring, and an ace from junior Addy Hipps made it 4-0. They later had leads of 9-1 and 15-5.
Greenwood got within five, 15-10, after Erin Black recorded three consecutive aces, but a kill from Hipps shifted momentum back to Russellville for good.
“Greenwood’s really scrappy, so you had to keep sticking with them and keep hitting at them because they’re always going to pick it up, so I liked that we kept firing at them,” Russellville coach Cindy Jones said.
“We won that second game. We lost that the other night against Southside and I thought that’s what cost us the match, so I thought we did better (Thursday) on that.”
Gilliam finished with 15 kills and 12 digs while Courtne Climer added six kills. Black had 21 assists, four aces and seven digs. Callie Harmon and Ariel Pinkston each recorded 10 digs.
Eshnaur had 15 kills, and Hipps had nine kills and 17 assists for the Lady Cyclones. Senior Ashtin Kendrick had six blocks, while junior Meredith Darnell had 18 digs.