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Class 2A Arkansas state volleyball championship: Mansfield uses early momentum to roll past familiar foe Lavaca

Saturday's win was the fourth victory this year over River Valley neighbor Lavaca
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By Jeff Halpern | Photos by Tommy Land  

HOT SPRINGS — Mansfield head coach Kaylie Pyles compared her team to a train in that once you get momentum, keep it up. 

That was the case Saturday morning at Bank OZK Arena where the Tigers (27-3) defeated Lavaca (24-6) 25-16, 25-15, 25-16 for the fourth time this season for the Class 2A state championship.

“If you get on a run, keep it going,” said Pyles after her team won its third consecutive state title with the mantra ‘Run it back.’

“As a coach, you expect it, but you have to go out and do it. This was the fourth time we’ve played Lavaca and at the beginning of the season, we beat them twice, but in district play, they took a set from us and when we played them today, I told our team we had to expect we were going to get their very best and play at a high level.”

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In each set, the game was tight before Mansfield went on a run to force Lavaca to play uphill the rest of the way. In the first game, the score was 10-10 before Mansfield went on a 9-1 run thanks to several errors by Lavaca and two kills by state tournament MVP Alyson Edwards.

The second game was tied 3-3 before Mansfield went on a 7-1 run to lead 10-4 with Edwards contributing two kills during that stretch.

The third game was tied 15-15 before Lavaca went on a 10-1 run to finish the match with Edwards getting three consecutive kills including five during that stretch. Natalie Allison also had two kills during that stretch, including the final point which secured the victory.

Edwards finished with 17 kills while hitting .424 with 8 digs. Allison and 12 kills, 24 assists and 15 digs. Kaylee Ward had 10 kills. Kynslee Ward had 2 kills and 14 digs. Brooklyn Adams had 18 digs.

“Alyson played on the last two championships teams as a freshman and sophomore and she does it all for us,” said Pyles.

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Emerson Schaefer led Lavaca with 8 kills and 12 digs. Abby Metlon and 13 digs. Madison Proctor had 4 kills. Kaesha Mendez had 13 assists. Mali Stockton had 3 kills and 15 digs.

“We ran into a good team, and you can’t take that away from them,” said Lavaca head coach Shannon Todaro. “When you play good teams, you can get beat and learn from it and try and get better or you can lose and not fight.

“In high school sports, the girls worked hard and deserved to be here. Volleyball game is game of peaks and valleys and emotions, and you have to take things one point at a time and one serve at a time. We ran into a great team that is fundamentally sound.”

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Pyles said her team which lost to Class 3A finalist Hackett, Class 5A semifinalist Van Buren and last year’s Class 3A state champion Paris prepared her team well for the championship, along with a 2A-West Conference schedule which also featured semifinalist Thaden.

“I like to schedule hard and over the summer, we played in some tough camps and our conference which is the best in 2A prepared us,” she said.

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