White Hall loses bid for first-ever state tourney trip


WHITE HALL — The White Hall volleyball team had a chance to earn a spot in the Class 5A state tournament if the Lady Bulldogs could beat Magnolia.

White Hall had its chances, but Magnolia earned a 25-17, 25-22 and 25-23 win to keep the Lady Bulldogs out of the state tournament.

“Just didn’t happen,” White Hall coach Steven Powell said. “I give Magnolia all of the credit. They hit it hard and are well coached. Just seems like every time the ball trickled across net, it went their way.”

Magnolia had the lead for most of the match and coach Candi Bailey said her team played hard the whole match.

“That’s something we’ve been working on, playing with some passion and intensity,” she said.

White Hall (7-11, 16 5A-South) had its chances in every set, but the Bulldogs were unable to score points at the critical times in the match.

“We had a chance to win every set and I hate it for my three seniors,” Powell said. “We have a lot returning next year and I hope this leaves a bitter taste in their mouth.”

Raya Bryant, Marleigh Pearce and Halea Martin are the three seniors.

Magnolia was White Hall’s last conference match. The Lady Bulldogs are tied with Hot Springs in the conference, but Powell said Hot Springs will have the edge to get the spot in the conference tournament.

“We are tied and we go head-to-head on points and I think they got us,” Powell said.

Magnolia (4-4 5A-South) took a 10-4 lead in the first set, but White Hall battled back to tie the set at 14 before Magnolia called a timeout.

After that, Magnolia went on a 9-0 run to take control of the opening set.

“They went on a huge run and we just couldn’t stop them,” Powell said. “When the wheels fell off, they fell off and it just seemed like we couldn’t get it going again.”

White Hall took its first lead of the match in the second set at 5-4 after a big rally. But a critical error by the Lady Bulldogs led to a 4-0 run for Magnolia.

After a big volley gave White Hall a 5-4 lead, the Lady Bulldogs brought in a new server even though they were the team that served to get the fifth point.

That led to an out-of-rotation violation, which tied the match at 5 and led to Magnolia scored three more points.

“We had a big, long volley and we just lost concentration and forget that we were serving,” Powell said. “We served out of order and that cost us a rally because we were getting on one. Been telling them all year to stay in it mentally, and we just made a mistake.”

White Hall never led again during the second set, but tied it at 21 before Aliyah Critton’s kill put Magnolia ahead and sparked a set-ending 4-0 run.

Magnolia built a 7-3 lead to open the third set before White Hall came back to tie it at 9. The final set went back and forth and White Hall took a 16-14 lead before Magnolia came back for an 18-16 edge.

The Lady Bulldogs came back to tie the match at 21 thanks to two net violations and an attack error by Magnolia. Then Hailey Wilkins and Alexis Winston teamed up for a block to put White Hall ahead 22-21.

But Winston was called for a net violation on the next play and Ally Stuart had an attack error that gave Magnolia a 23-22 lead and the Lady Panthers went on to win the set by two points at 25-23.

“We had a net error at the end and drove an attack into the net,” Powell said. “Just one of them things.”

Bailey said her team did a good job holding off White Hall any time the Lady Bulldogs tried to grab momentum.

“My team did a good job of stopping their runs,” she said. “Did a good job of working hard. Their crowd got loud, but we did a good job of stopping them.”