The East volleyball team quickly asserted mastery of the net Wednesday night at the Farris Center.
The All-Stars from the East, with an assortment of power players from northeast Arkansas, surged to a 25-10 victory initially, then proceeded to sweep the West in the other four sets, 25-21, 25-8, 26-24, 15-7, for their third volleyball win in four years. It was the first five-set sweep in an All-Star girls volleyball match since 2003.
"All I did this week was sit back and watch, and it was fun," said East coach Angie Donner of Paragould. "We had three rules: Have fun, have fun, have fun."
It was so much fun that Brentlee Weaver of Valley View, who had nine kills, 25 attacks and five aces, was taken off guard when she was awarded the Most Valuable Player Award. It occurred moments after Jonesboro’s Sussannah Kelley was named the Outstanding Player from the East and Kori Bullard of Lake Hamilton got the companion award for the West.
"I didn’t know they were going to give another award," she said. "I heard my name and he (Arkansas High School Coaches Association president Calvin Mallett) held his hand out, but I had no idea what I was getting."
Faulkner County players also contributed to the East victory.
Conway’s Rachel Skinner, a libero and a University of Central Arkansas recruit, had three sets, three attacks and 20 digs. Several of her digs played a major role in the East rallying from seven-points down late to finally lead 24-23 and take the 26-24 victory in the fourth set.
Meagan Briggler of St. Joseph had two sets, seven attacks and one dig.
The girls were 1:30 into the All-Star match at the Bill Stephens Complex when a major thunderstorm hit, sending fans and players scurrying for shelter and resulting in a 90-minute lightning delay.
Eventually, the allotted times for the girls and boys games were cut in half — 40 minutes each — and players slid and struggled in the rain and mud.
Regulation ended at 0-0 in both games, and they were decided by penalty kicks.
The West boys prevailed 5-3 on PKs, while the East girls took a 3-2 PK advantage.
Jack Lakey of Greenbrier, one of the top scorers in the state last season, knocked in the decisive penalty kick for the West boys. Evan Munro of Hot Springs Lakeside won MVP honors.
Abigail Persson of Sylvan Hills scored the winning PK for the East girls.
Playing for the East boys was Cody Moore of Vilonia.
The East girls had a sprinkling of Faulkner County players, including Anna Cain of Conway Christian, Peyton Turner of Conway, Alysa Hollingsworth of Vilonia and Elizabeth Hambuchen of St. Joseph. Turner almost won the game for the East with 10 seconds left in regulation, but her shot on goal missed left.
Morgan McCormick of Greenbrier played for the West girls.
Michael Riba of Vilonia served as an assistant coach for the East girls, while Stefe Jones of Greenbrier was on the West boys staff.