|Lonoke's Emily Moore sends the ball back across the net against Southside Batesville in finals of the conference tournament. (Photos by Nathan McGowan)|
|Lonoke's Jarrelyn McCall serves against Southside.|
By Mark Buffalo
LONOKE — The Lonoke Lady Jackrabbits volleyball team extended its state tournament appearance streak to 13 this season. However, the Lady Jackrabbits have a bigger goal in mind.
"We're all excited … but they've all said, 'we don't just want to make it to state — we want to win state,'" Lonoke coach Laura Park said.
Park said the team's goal was to go into the state tournament as either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. The Lady Jackrabbits are the second seed from the 4A-Central in the Class 4A state tournament, which starts Tuesday at the Gina Cox Center and the old LHS gymnasium in Lonoke.
Lonoke finished 4A-Central play at 15-1. The Lady Jackrabbits lost to Southside Batesville in the finals of the conference tournament last week.
"They won conference and probably should have won the district tournament … it is hard to beat a team three times," Park said. "They are going as a No. 2 seed so they have accomplished two of their goals. It's a great group of kids and everything they do, they do it with their whole heart. They are very excited and I'm very excited."
Lonoke will play Prairie Grove in the first round Tuesday at noon in the old gym. The winner will play either Mena or Newport on Wednesday in the Gina Cox Center at 4 p.m. The semifinals are Thursday at 4 p.m. The state finals are Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
Park said playing the state tournament in Lonoke will bring "normalcy" to the events this week.
"I think it will help the girls stay a little more focused on actually playing the game instead of traveling somewhere to play in a tournament," she said. "To be able to have your home crowd and hopefully some students from school and have a little more support is big. Every time we've played in the state tournament, it's been so far away.
"We'll have an opportunity for more of our people to see the girls in this situation and it's tremendous."