Conference Champs Win Regionals


Gabby Woodie

REGIONAL CHAMPS Freshmen volleyball defeats Greenwood to capture Regional trophy.

   Freshman volleyball captured the 6A West Regional Championship on Oct. 23 with a three-set win from behind over Greenwood. Ending with a 34-4 overall season record, the team led by head coach Erin Chronister and assistant coach Weston Burgess also took the title of co-conference champions.

   “Winning Regionals, in and of itself, is the highlight of any freshmen coach, but getting to do it on our brand new home court with my first group is something I will never forget,” Chronister said.

   The ladies also captured the Spikefest title on Sept. 11 in Springdale. The team defeated Greenwood’s freshman team, which according to defensive specialist Mischa Soubiron proved the biggest competition and best-earned win.

   “It felt amazing. Beating Greenwood was probably one of the best parts of the season but especially at that tournament,” Soubiron said.

   In regular season play, the team competed in a mix of non-conference and conference matches. Since the conference only consisted of five teams, the teams each played each other three times. The matchups did not count as conference matches until each team played each other once. The team finished with a conference record of 7-1, with their only loss to Greenwood.

   “A rivalry was caused because all the points were close, and the sets were close,” Cox said.

   The girls played their final regular match of the season on Oct. 19 against Northside. The game was at home in their arena. Some of their fellow freshmen at their school came to cheer them on, including their freshmen cheerleaders.

   “It was very exhilarating. I think we did good as a team and really connected along with our student section. Our student section brought in a lot of good positive energy,” setter Mileah Neal said.

   The team continued to stay on the court while playing in tournaments throughout Arkansas on most weekends. The first was the Jumpstart Jamboree in Fayetteville, where the Mavs went 4-0.

   “It was a good experience for us,” defensive specialist Mahala Williamson said.

   Following the tournament at Fayetteville, the team competed in the Conway Invitational and the Fort Smith Invitational earning second and fifth place.

   Rounding out the first season, Southside hosted the Regional Tournament. Regionals consisted of four teams from the north and four teams from south Arkansas. The Mavs went through Rogers and Bentonville to take down Greenwood in a competitive three-set finale.

   “It felt amazing to win. It is great because we are the first freshman team to do that from Southside,” setter Ashlyn McCain said.

   After setting the standard for future freshman teams, the girls are excited to see the future of the program.

   “It’s really nice knowing that we’re setting a standard and that there’s something to live up to because we had such a good season,” Soubiron said.

   With only one loss in conference and two tournaments won, the first freshmen Mavs established a legacy that will live on long after they graduate.

Daily practices started in the summer months before school began. There were many obstacles the team had to overcome in the waiting period before starting to use the brand new arena. With time, the team learned the process of their practices.

“Our practices are really intense most of the time. We usually do partner drills and play a couple of games, and then whoever wins the game will not condition,” Outside Hitter Meg Lux said.

The Mavs played their first match and achieved their first victory over Ozark in August. 

“It was just really cool to see us all play together, much better than we did in practice because we just have that energy,” Libero Kate Cox said.

“Practice is a lot of work, and I think it helps us as a team to prepare, because like, it helps us see how we work together. And if there are any little things that we need to fix just so we can be like a well-oiled machine,” Soubiron said.