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Marion bruises Beebe in season-opening win

Photo Credit: Londa Hamrick

MARION BRUISES BEEBE IN SEASON-OPENING WIN

Marion's student section, The Trench, rocked and swayed with every point by their beloved Patriots put up. Tyler Bennett, Marion's public address announcer, incited the students with a diverse playlist between sets and seemed to get louder with each Patriot point. In so many ways, the scene Tuesday night at 3M Transit Arena mirrored the best of those of Patriot volleyball past, right down to the season-opening 3-0 victory (25-14, 25-9, and 25-15) for Marion over Beebe. It was Marion's (1-0 overall) first game at 3M Transit Arena since October 24, 2019, a span of 1,034 days. 3M Transit Arena has hosted Marion volleyball since the program's inception in 1996, but the Pats have played the past two seasons in Fidelity Bank Arena due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “I thought we played fluid and consistent and played with a ton of energy,” said Marion coach Lisa Beasley. “I loved the home atmosphere. I forgot how loud it can get in here I guess after not being here (at 3M Transit Arena). Some of the younger kids were a little surprised at how loud it was, but it was truly like being back at home.” Marion downed Beebe on the strength of senior all-conference performer Kiah Rucker's 15 kills and four blocks. Seniors Madison Allison and Meredith Williams checked in with four kills apiece. Sophomore Maggie Miller handed out a team-high 22 assists, while freshman libero Kaitlyn Austin paced Marion with 28 digs. Freshman Kennedy Bullins logged six kills and served three aces. Sophomore Alexa Shinabery recorded six kills and served three aces. Freshman Taylor Chamness logged three kills, and classmate Aynslee Coad registered two kills. Freshman Ashlynn Baggett recorded two kills and an ace. The opening set was a back-and-forth event that featured four early ties, the last coming at 6-6. Marion took the lead for good on a hitting error, followed by an ace from the left-handed Chamness. Shinabery delivered back-to-back aces to stake Marion to an 11-7 lead, and Baggett's ace kicked off a 5-0 Marion run that featured two kills from Allison, and one apiece from Rucker and Bullins to force a Beebe timeout. Miller served an ace before assisting Rucker twice and Shinabery once for kills and Marion's lead swelled to 20-12. Austin served an ace, and set Shinabery for a kill before Miller set Williams for a kill, and a 25-14 opening-set conquest. The second set was a Marion jam session, featuring the Pats scoring the first four points, and 11 of the first 12. Rucker recorded a block and a kill just before Chamness recorded a kill of her own for a 4-0 advantage. Miller blocked a kill attempt and set Rucker twice as Marion earned an 11-1 advantage. Miller's deft passing motored Marion to a 15-3 lead as she twice set Shinabery and Williams once for kills. Williams responded by logging a pair of kills and serving an ace for a 22-8 advantage before a Bullins kill clinched the 25-9 Marion decision. Marion got contributions from multiple players in the third set, starting with another Miller-to-Shinabery connection that gave the Pats the lead for good at 4-3. Miller followed by teaming with Coad for a two-point advantage before Austin and Miller served aces for consecutive Marion points, and a 9-3 lead. Beebe ripped off five straight points to trim the Marion lead to 9-8, but the Pats responded with a Williams block, a pair of Bullins kills, and four points from Rucker to push the lead to 17-13. Miller set Rucker and Williams for back-to-back points as Marion claimed a 19-14 lead. An Austin ace pushed Marion ahead 22-14, and Miller assisted on kills from Coad and Shinabery to put Marion out 25-15. Marion remains home Thursday night for Collierville, Tennessee at 3M Transit Arena for a junior varsity/varsity doubleheader. The 5 p.m. tilt will be broadcast live on MarionPatriots.com and on the Marion Patriots Activities mobile app.

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