Licking Lady Wildcats advance to final four

                                                                                                                                                           Photo by Shari Harris
The team rushes the floor and fans leap to their feet when Licking defeats Strafford in three sets Saturday to win Quarterfinals.

                                                                                   Photo by Shari Harris
Fans started the Lady ‘Cats off right Saturday 
with this show of support as the team left 
for Strafford for Sectional and Quarterfinal play.

By Shari Harris

Saturday, the Licking Lady ‘Cats and a crowd of fans traveled to Strafford for the Sectional and Quarterfinal Rounds of State play. Strafford faced Diamond in the first sectional match, and the home team pulled out the win. Licking faced Stockton next, and pulled out the win 25-23 and 25-21 in two sets.
                                                                      Photo by Shari Harris
Maggie Cline gets the kill to increase the Wildcat lead 
to four in the second set against Strafford.
Strafford had the home team advantage and recent success in post-season play. The Lady ‘Cats looked like they doubted their chances in the first set, with Strafford benefitting from several points on Licking mistakes and winning by 11 points. True to their nature, though, the Lady ‘Cats wouldn’t give up so easily. Kamryn Barnes served for four consecutive points to put Licking up 6-3, forcing an early Strafford time-out. Licking would expand their lead to five before Strafford would score again. Licking kept the lead between three and five points until Strafford went on a run, pulling to within a point, 13-14. Licking called time-out and got the side-out, but Strafford returned the favor then pulled ahead. Licking kept it close, tying the score again at 23-23, then battled to win the set, 25-23. The Lady ‘Cats were one set away from the final four, and they started the final set with a vengeance, building a 10-0 lead. Strafford tried to erase the deficit, but never came closer than four points, losing the set 25-20. The Licking Lady Wildcats advanced to the final four in Cape Girardeau, with the semifinal round robin games on Friday, Nov. 8, and the final and third/fourth games scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9.
The Class 2, District 9 semifinals and finals last week pitted three of the area’s toughest foes against each other, with Licking, Mtn. View and Cabool each looking like they could advance at different times during play.
The first match on Tuesday was number one seed Licking versus Conway. Conway was no match for the Lady ‘Cats, with Licking winning 25-22 and 25-18 in two sets.
Number two seed Cabool took on Mtn. View in the next match, and the crowd at Sherman Hill Field House in Licking was treated to a battle. It looked like Cabool would make it to the finals after winning the first set, 25-18. But Mtn. View wouldn’t go down so easy. They reversed their fortunes in the second set, and Cabool fell 25-17. The deciding set started out with Mtn. View-Liberty taking the lead 4-1, with Cabool forced to use a time-out to try and shift the momentum. But Mtn. View kept the lead despite Cabool’s best efforts, winning set and match, 25-21.
To win the district, Licking would have to overcome last year’s District champs, Mtn. View. Licking had the home team advantage but this was offset by at least two of the Lady ‘Cat starters suffering from nausea and vomiting. Mtn. View carried its momentum from the Cabool game into the final and won the first set 25-21 over Licking. Down seven points to the Eagles, 13-20, it looked like Licking would fall. But the Lady ‘Cats fought back. Kylie Taylor’s ace brought the score to 18-20, then each team lost the serve, moving to 19-21. Licking pulled to within one, 20-21, but Mtn. View added a point to go up by two again. Licking tied the set at 22 all, then after a Mtn. View time-out, took the lead. Mtn. View tied up the score again at 24. Licking took control at that point, scoring the final two points of the set to win 26-24. The Lady ‘Cats took control early in the third set and kept it most of the game despite the toll the game was having on Licking’s ill players. The Licking Lady Wildcats advanced to sectionals with a 25-21 win over the Mtn. View Liberty Eagles in the third set.



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