PATCH GROVE – The Benton Zephyrs are headed back into sectional play for the second straight season after sweeping away the host River Ridge Timberwolves, 3-0, in a WIAA Division 4 regional championship match at RRHS on Saturday, Oct. 21.
The #3-seeded Lady Zephyrs (25-2 overall) handed the #2-seeded Timberwolves (24-2) just their second loss of the season after sweeping their Six Rivers West foes for the second time in less than two weeks.
Benton trailed 19-17 in set one before rallying to take down the ‘Wolves, 28-26, for a key victory. Set two was another nip-and-tuck affair with the Zephyrs pulling out a 25-23 win after senior Emma Lawrence broke a 23 all tie with a kill and junior Maggie Dougherty ended it with an ace.
The Zephyrs jumped ahead early in set three and cruised to the sweep as they locked up their second consecutive regional title with a 25-14 win.
“At Ridge, we had a battle for the first two sets and in the third set we jumped out to a five-point lead and never looked back,” said Benton head coach Russell Hamm. “Our players just turned it up and Ridge struggled to make good plays or get momentum.”
Lawrence racked by 23 kills, 25 digs, two blocks and two aces in the victory. Senior setter Kelsie Goffinet dished out 46 assists along with 10 digs and two aces, while M. Dougherty finished with nine kills, four aces and 18 digs.
Junior Sophie Dougherty tallied nine kills, 10 digs and two blocks for the Zephyrs. Lydia Jones and Shay Soppe added 11 and 10 digs, respectively, in the match.
Benton advances to sectional play where they will face the Seneca Indians (18-4) for the second straight season in a sectional semifinal match at Belmont High School on Thursday, Oct. 26, starting at 7 p.m.
It’s the fourth meeting between the two teams in the past two seasons. The Zephyrs lead the head-to-head series 2-1 with a pair of wins in the championship match of the Seneca Tournament, but the Indians rallied for a 3-1 win over the Zephyrs in last year’s sectional match on the way to a state tournament berth.
“We are looking forward to play Seneca. I want my team to play better than they ever have and stay positive throughout the whole match,” declared Hamm.Benton advanced to Saturday’s regional final by defeating a pair of SRW foes to open the tournament. The Zephyrs swept the #14-seeded Belmont Braves, 25-18, 25-12, 25-9, in a regional quarterfinal contest in Benton on Tuesday, Oct. 17, and then they earned a hard-fought 3-1 decision over the #6-seeded Potosi Chieftains, 25-19, 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, in a regional semifinal match back at BHS on Thursday, Oct. 19.
“Both Belmont and Potosi changed their lineups since we last played them. Belmont had some good plays, but our offense was on that night. Potosi decided to keep two– and sometimes three– blockers on Emma. She was caught off guard, but came around after we discussed strategy in timeout with Kelsie. Sophie had a great night against Potosi, which helped open up spots for the rest of our offense,” noted Hamm.
Lawrence registered 13 kills, 16 digs, seven blocks and four aces against Belmont, and tallied 22 kills, 15 digs and four blocks against Potosi.
Goffinet had 31 kills, three blocks and three aces on Tuesday, and recorded 36 assists and 13 digs on Thursday.
Senior Savannah Hilby had 13 digs against Belmont, while S. Dougherty tallied 13 kills and seven blocks and M.
Dougherty added 15 digs and four aces against Potosi.
WIAA D4 REGIONAL FINAL
Benton…………….... 28 25 25
River Ridge………… 26 23 14
Benton Leaders– Kills: Emma Lawrence 23, Maggie Dougherty 9, Sophie Dougherty 9. Blocks: Lawrence 2, S. Dougherty 2. Assists: Goffinet 46. Aces: Maggie Dougherty 4. Digs: Lawrence 25, M. Dougherty 18, Lydia Jones 11, Shay Soppe 10, Goffinet 10.
At Patch Grove on Saturday, Oct. 21
WIAA D4 REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
Potosi……………. 19 25 22 17
Benton…………… 25 21 25 25
Benton Leaders– Kills: Emma Lawrence 22, Sophie Dougherty 13, Lydia Jones 7. Blocks: S. Dougherty 7, Lawrence 4, Savannah Hilby 3. Assists: Goffinet 36, Hilby 6. Aces: Maggie Dougherty 4. Digs: Lawrence 15, M. Dougherty 15, Goffinet 13.
At Benton on Thursday, Oct. 19
WIAA D4 REGIONAL QUARTERFINAL
Belmont………….. 18 12 9
Benton…………… 25 25 25
Benton Leaders– Kills: Emma Lawrence 13, Maggie Dougherty 7, Sophie Dougherty 6. Blocks: Lawrence 7, Kelsie Goffinet 3. Assists: Goffinet 31. Aces: Lawrence 4, Goffinet 3. Digs: Lawrence 16, Savannah Hilby 13, M. Dougherty 12, Lydia Jones 11.
At Benton on Tuesday, Oct. 17