Ginny Ward came through in the clutch for the Branson Lady Pirates on Thursday.
In a hard-fought contest that went down to the wire, Ward came up with two kills late in the third set to help the Lady Pirates edge Neosho 25-20, 19-25, 26-24 in a Central Ozark Conference Large Division bout at NHS.
After Matty Liedtke’s left handed kill tied the game 24-24 in the third set, Ward stepped up and blasted a right handed smash into the gut of the Lady Wildcats’ defense to make it 25-24. Lauren Boone took the serve for Branson, and Ward again came through with a powerful kill to seal the victory.
That stopped a Lady Wildcats rally that saw them dominate the Lady Pirates in the second set before building a 19-14 advantage in the third before things slipped away.
After splitting a pair of games against the Lady Pirates at the Carl Junction Tournament this season, the Neosho Lady Wildcats knew if they played well they’d have a shot at the victory.
“We played well,” Wildcats coach Kerri Roy said. “(The Pirates) are a good team.
The Lady Wildcats got off to a slow start in the first set, but came on at the end and played well the remainder of the way.
Neosho tied the first set 9-9 before Branson took the lead for good on the next point. The Lady Wildcats closed the gap to 20-19 late in the set, but a pair of serves sailed into the net and allowed the Lady Pirates to extend their lead to three, 23-20.
Things were much different in the second set as Neosho’s scrappy play set the tone early. Branson’s only leads in the set were of the 1-0 and 2-1 variety. After that it was all Lady Wildcats. Neosho pushed its lead to 10-4 before the Lady Pirates closed it to 19-16. But the Lady Wildcats continued to pull away each time Branson drew near.
Ward went on to lead the Lady Pirates with six kills and five blocks. Boone turned in 10 assists, Alexa Fawson had four aces and Crystal Renyer finished with 11 digs.
Morgan Rogers had a big night for the Lady Wildcats with 11 kills, four blocks, eight service points and two aces. Liedtke finished with eight kills and an ace. Tori Eads had 22 assists. Reba Potts turned in eight digs and seven service points. Sam Duke racked up 11 digs.
Despite losing a pair of tough matches this week Neosho (5-20-4) has shown improvement.
“(The loss) is heartbreaking,” Roy said. “But I’m very pleased with the way (our team) played. That’s what I tell them after every game, ‘Be mad that you lost, don’t be mad at the way you played.’ We just have to keep going. We can’t give up.”
Page 2 of 2 - The Lady Wildcats entertain Carthage at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Branson edged Neosho in the junior varsity match 25-22, 25-21. The Lady Pirates also won the freshman contest 27-25, 25-8.