Marion High School Athletics


Pats wrap regular season with win over Jonesboro

Photo Credit: Londa Hamrick


Prior to opening its run at the 2023 Class 5A state volleyball tournament, the Marion Patriots had one, final date on the schedule before heading to Searcy.| That date was with the Jonesboro Golden Hurricane, a Class 6A playoff team and the site was 3M Transit Arena. The Pats improved to 23-6-1 overall this fall, with a flawless 14-0 mark in conference action, dispatching Jonesboro in three sets (25-23, 25-18, and 25-21). Marion will be the No. 1 seed from the 5A East, and the Pats open their run at the single-elimination state tournament against Sylvan Hills on Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. Should Marion defeat Sylvan Hills, the Pats would play on Wednesday at 2 p.m., and a potential semifinal match would be at 1 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. If Marion makes the state title game, the Pats would play the final game of the 2023 Arkansas high school volleyball season at 7 p.m., Saturday, October 28 at Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs. Marion juked Jonesboro behind the hot hitting of sophomore Kennedy Bullins, who led the way with 14 kills, freshman Kendall Brown posted 12, and sophomore Kaitlyn Austin checked in with eight. Sophomore Taylor Chamness served three aces against Jonesboro, while junior Alexa Shinabery logged one. Brown and Bullins stacked two blocks apiece, while Shinabery and Austin each finished with one. Chamness led the way with 12 digs, while junior Maggie Miller recorded 10, and Austin and sophomore Abbi Simmons each finished with nine. Miller, Marion's all-time assists leader, handed out a match-high 32 assists, while Chamness and Simmons each recorded a pair. “I'm so proud of our relentless effort, heart, and grit,” said Marion coach Lisa Beasley. “These girls love to play the game, and they love to play together. You can't ask for much more than that.” But Jonesboro hit Marion early on Thursday evening, taking a 7-3 lead that forced Beasley to burn a timeout. Marion hit the comeback trail after the stoppage, as Miller set Bullins, Reese Goodwin, and Brown for kills to get the Pats within four. Jonesboro led 12-9 when Marion embarked on a 5-0 run that began with a Brown kill, followed by back-to-back kills by Austin. Marion took its first lead of the match when Bullins blocked a Jonesboro kill attempt, and when Shinabery slammed home a kill for a 14-12 lead, Jonesboro called for time. But the Golden Hurricane rallied and took an 18-17 lead later in the first, setting the stage again for consecutive Shinabery kills that pushed the Pats back in front 19-18. Marion hit 20 when Miller came up with her first kill of the night, and Bullins, Brown, and Shinabery all came up with points for a 23-19 Patriot advantage. Marion closed out when Miller hit Brown again for a three-point victory in the opener. Marion made the first run in set No. 2, breaking open a 3-3 tie behind two kills by Bullins and one from Brown. Brown and Shinabery registered kills later on, followed by a Chamness ace, and the Marion lead hit 15-8 following a hitting error, and the visitors called time. The stoppage did nothing to deter the Pats, though. Following the timeout, Bullins and Chamness stacked kills for consecutive points, and when Bullins blocked a shot at the net, Marion led 19-10 as Golden Hurricane called their second timeout of the set. Jonesboro strung together four points in a row after the stoppage, but Marion closed out when Goodwin blocked a shot, and Bullins and Browns logged kills. The visitors took a 12-7 lead midway through the third set, but Brown sparked a rally when she logged a kill, followed immediately by a block, and when Chamness served consecutive aces, Marion was within 12-11, and the Pats took their first lead (14-13) of the third set when Jonesboro hit a ball four times. Kills by Austin and Bullins pushed the Pats ahead 16-13, but Jonesboro tied the set at 20 with an ace. Miller responded by setting Bullins and Brown for kills and a 22-20 Marion lead, and the Pats closed out their regular year when Brown tallied another kill before Shinabery delivered the final point of the night with an ace. CLASS 5A STATE TOURNAMENT OUTLOOK Marion opens its run at this season's Class 5A state tournament at Searcy at 4 p.m. Tuesday, October 24 against the Sylvan Hills Bears (12-10 overall, 7-6 5A Central). Should Marion beat Sylvan Hills, the Pats would play at 2 p.m. Wednesday, October 25 in the quarterfinal against the winner of the Greenwood-Sheridan contest. Should Marion make the state semifinals, the Pats would play at 1 p.m., Thursday, October 26. Every Marion State tournament game at Searcy will be broadcast live on and on the Marion Patriots Activities Network YouTube channel. The Class 5A state championship game will be played at 7 p.m., on Saturday, October 28 at Bank OZK Arena in Hot Springs. MARION 2023 ACCOMPLISHMENTS The 2023 Marion volleyball team won 20 games or more for the third season in a row. The Pats earned a league title for the second time in three years. This season marks only the fourth time that Marion has gone undefeated in conference play, joining the 2010, 2011, and 2021 outfits. It's the 12th conference title in school history. 5A EAST STANDINGS Marion 14-0*& Valley View 11-3* Paragould 10-4* Batesville 8-6* Greene Co. Tech 5-9 Nettleton 4-10 Searcy 3-11 W. Memphis 1-13 &outright conference champions *qualified for the state tournament in Searcy

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