MOUNTAIN HOME – The Benton Lady Panthers cruised into the second round of the Class 6A State Tournament on Tuesday when they easily swept the Jacksonville Lady Red Devils 3-0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-7) in the opening round at The Hangar on the campus of Mountain Home High School.
The Lady Panthers (16-8) will face Van Buren in the quarterfinals today at 4 p.m. The Pointerettes also easily won their first round match Tuesday, sweeping El Dorado 3-0 (25-15, 25-4, 25-8).
Benton dominated Jacksonville at the net, compiling 42 kills and a block while the Lady Red Devils had just five kills and a block.
“I thought we hit the ball pretty well,” said Benton coach Brandy Chumley. “That’s something we’ve talked about and practiced all year, keeping the ball in play. I thought they did a good job of talking and communicating with each other.”
Kristen Ryan led a balanced attack for the Lady Panthers with 13 kills and a block while Emily Morgan and Hayley Ferguson each had eight kills and Alex Williams added seven.
Benton only trailed twice in the entire match, going down 1-0 in the first and third games. But once the Lady Panthers got going in each set, they pulled away early and never looked back.
Benton led 11-7 in the first game before outscoring Jacksonville 14-5 to end the game and got 11 of those 14 points off kills.
Benton scored the first five points of the second set before the Lady Red Devils managed to get within two at 6-4 and again at 8-6. The Lady Panthers then had four straight kills and had 12 during a 17-5 run to end the game.
After getting 15 kills in each of the first two games, Benton had 12 in the third set but Jacksonville did not have any, only getting an ace on offense and scoring the other six on Benton errors. It was still close at 9-4 when the Lady Panthers finished on a 16-3 run getting 10 kills during that run.