By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MUNFORD — To settle the score of who was the best in Region 7-3A Volleyball came down to the Bartlett Lady Panthers and Munford Lady Cougars.
And the defending champion Lady Panthers were victorious Tuesday night in the Munford Gymnasium 25-15, 25-21 and 28-26. Led by Regional Tournament MVP Kenzie Fields, Bartlett advanced to host a Sectional contest this Thursday.
The Lady Panthers advance to the Region championship game with a 25-19, 25-19 and 25-12 win over Dyer County in the Semifinals. The win over the Lady Choctaws secured a Sub-State spot.
Earlier in the day, District 13-3A champions Munford took to the court and eliminated the Arlington Lady Tigers in three sets 26-24, 25-20 and 25-17. That win made it seven straight Sub-State appearances for the Lady Cougars dating back to 2007.
From 2007 to 2010, Munford won four straight Region 7-3A titles. But recent years Head Coach Shari Walker and her Lady Panthers have been queens of the league. Reaching the finals Tuesday, Bartlett jumped out to a 16-7 advantage in the first set courtesy of a kill from Fields.
Fields closed out the opening set with a spike to make the score 25-15. The second set was closer with All-Tournament player Cecily Gable pacing Munford with her attack at the net.
After falling behind 7-3, Gable led the Lady Cougars’ comeback to within a point at 12-11 with a bump. That deficit remained throughout the set until the score was 18-17 in favor of Bartlett.
Then Lady Panther All-Tournament player Demi Chipman scored a point to make the tally 21-18. Once again Fields closed out the festivities this time with a pair of spikes to make the second set final score 25-21.
The third set was tight throughout with eight ties, including 26-26. Lady Panther Melissa Hale score on a spike to break the deadlock. And when the Lady Cougars hit the ball out of bounds, Bartlett defended its Region title successfully.
Both teams advance to play in the Sub-State round this Thursday with Bartlett hosting and Munford traveling.