By Richard Greene
The Paradise Lady Panthers’ hopes of claiming the District 6-2A volleyball title came to an end Tuesday night.
The Peaster Lady Greyhounds took down the Lady Panthers in four games to claim the league crown. Peaster won the match 25-23, 21-25, 25-12, 25-20.
The victory gave Peaster the sweep of Paradise during district play. Peaster previously beat Paradise Oct. 2 in five games.
The loss means Paradise, who concludes the regular season Friday against Millsap, will be the runner-up in the district. They will open the playoffs Nov. 2 or 3 against the third-place team out of District 5-2A.
“We’ve got to move on,” said Paradise libero Candice McDaniel. “There’s no looking in the past anymore.”
After playing a five-game marathon against Paradise in the last meeting, Peaster coach Dianna French challenged her team to pick up its offense.
The team responded behind Courtney Haney and Skye Daugherty, who combined for 26 kills. Haney had a match-high 15 kills.
“We had a good offensive game,” French said. “We hit the ball better. That was our goal to be more of a threat offensively.
“We were real determined to win this match.”
McDaniel, who finished with 53 digs, said the Paradise defense didn’t have an answer for the Peaster offense.
“They are a great team,” McDaniel said. “We didn’t come out and play like we needed to.”
Paradise also could not mount enough of an offensive attack. Hannah Johnson led the Lady Panthers with 12 kills. Casey Fletcher added eight kills. Meg Arthur recorded 73 assists.
“We just didn’t hit like we needed to,” said Paradise coach Susie Burt. “We tipped too much. Against Peaster, you can’t do that. They defend the floor too well. You have to hit at them and make them make mistakes.”
Paradise had its chance to grab the first game, building a 10-5 lead to start the match. Paradise could not hold the advantage. Peaster caught Paradise at 20 and took the lead, 21-20, on a Daugherty kill. Paradise was able to regain the lead on an ace by Arthur. Fletcher followed with a block for a kill to push Paradise to a 23-21 lead. That was the Lady Panthers’ last point of the game. Haney put down a pair of kills to finish a 4-0 run to end the game.
McDaniel said letting the game one lead get away was crushing. “It’s hard when you give it all you can and not win,” McDaniel said.
Paradise fell behind 6-2 to start game two, but was able to rally. The Lady Panthers tied the game at 9 on an Arthur kill. The game remained tight until Arthur started an eight-point rally that gave the Lady Panthers a 23-17 lead. Johnson put down three kills during the run. Johnson put down the game-winner after Peaster closed within three points.
The momentum from the game two win did not stay with Paradise long. Peaster built an 11-5 lead on an ace by Shayla Colliflower in game three.
The Lady Panthers never closed within four the remainder of game. Peaster sealed the win on a Randi Barnett kill.
In game four, Peaster grabbed the lead at 6-5 and never gave it back. Peaster built the lead to 21-14 on an ace by Haney. Peaster reached match point at 24-17 before Paradise rallied back to within four. Daugherty brought a sudden end to the Paradise comeback and sealed the district title for Peaster with a kill.