Central Arkansas Christian’s Lady Mustangs clinched the 4A-Central conference championship with a flourish last week and were to begin the post-season Tuesday in the district tournament at Lonoke.
Ken Roberts’ Lady Mustangs finished the regular season 16-3, including a 13-1 run through the conference schedule to defend their championship. As the top seed for the 4A-Central District Tournament, they earned a bye to Tuesday’s 5 p.m. semifinal match and a berth in the Class 4A State Tournament next week at Mena. There they’ll try to improve on last year’s finish, when they finished third.
"We really just want everybody to take care of business," Roberts, the first-year senior high coach, said Sunday of the goal for this week. "If the seniors will step up and play the way they have most of the season, and if we can serve. … That’s been our downfall — if we have a bad serving night. As long as we’re serving well, we can put points together.
"But we know what we’re capable of. We know we can beat everybody in this tournament. We need to show that."
CAC closed out the regular season last week with a pair of straight-set conference victories, over Lonoke for Senior Night at Mustang Mountain, 26-24, 25-20, 25-13; and at Heber Springs, 25-12, 25-15, 25-13.
"We played well," Roberts said. "The teams we beat were (further down the conference standings), so it’s a little hard to judge, but we were better this time than we were the first time."
Marianna Lee earned the second seed for the district tournament with a 12-2 conference record (losing only to the Lady Mustangs) and joined CAC in the semifinals on the other side of the bracket. The Lady Trojans also gained an automatic berth to the state tournament next week. Batesville Southside finished third in the conference race at 10-4, followed by Lonoke, 7-7; Clinton, 6-8; Maumelle, 5-9; Heber Springs, 2-12; and Pulaski Robinson, 1-13.
"We’d really like to win this tournament," Roberts said. "Last year we ended up third and didn’t get a good seed (for the state tournament), so that gives us something to play for."
Clinton and Robinson faced each other in a first-round tournament match Monday, as did Maumelle and Heber Springs. The winner of Clinton-Robinson moved on to play Lonoke in the second round in the top half of the bracket later Monday; the survivor was to meet CAC. The Maumelle-Heber Springs winner faced Southside in the second round; the survivor of those three was to face Marianna.
Winners of Tuesday’s semifinals advanced to Wednesday’s 7 p.m. championship match. Semifinal losers moved to the consolation match at 5 p.m. Wednesday to determine seeds for the state tournament, which will run Oct. 29-31 with the championship match set for Nov. 2 at the State Volleyball Finals at Russellville at 11 a.m.
CAC finished 18-8 last year, reaching the quarterfinals of the state tournament.