Mavs outlast Lady Bears in benefit match

Northside volleyball coach Matt Waack loved the effort. So did Southside coach Natalie Throneberry. Southside topped Northside in four sets (25-12, 21-25, 25-17, 25-17) Tuesday in a benefit match at Southside Gym. The teams open the season next week. Waack believes the Lady Bears are making small strides. “I don’t think we showed up the first game like we should have,” he said. “But that’s one reason I like playing the benefit match with them; I like seeing them early. We have to fight it out and get used to that competition. We’re trying to close the gap; it’s the mental part.” The Lady Bears haven’t beaten Southside since 2006. But they gave the Mavs all they could handle. “We’ve talked about a lot about not putting a cap on our potential,” Throenberry said. “We were in a couple of situations where it was pure chaos, and we need that. We have a long way to go before we’re at our peak.” Sophomore Torree Tiffee led the Mavs with a dozen kills. Fellow sophomore Olivia Melton also played well. “Torree’s done great; Olivia’s done great,” Throneberry said. “I actually made a last minute switch yesterday. She (Melton) was not playing a lot outside. She did well; she’s still kind of my utility player right now, but I’m really proud of her.” Senior Kelsey Hamilton led the Mavs with five aces. Bailey Vega, a senior middle blocker, also played well. After getting blitzed in the first set, the Mavs responded with a late run in the third game. “It’s was nice to see us come back and put some games together,” Throenberry said. “I stress that it’s still early.” The Mavs open with Van Buren on Tuesday. Northside will face Springdale. For the Lady Bears, Sydney Klein played well. “She came out really big,” Waack said. “We’ve been dueling her and another senior for that right side spot. She had a couple of key blocks and did a lot of scoring.” Captain Lexie Mosby played well, Waack said. “We have to find a way to get Nicole (Medlin) more involved,” the coach said. “We have to get her the ball; we didn’t pass well early. We need her to hammer it, because there’s not going to be very many people that will be able to contend with her.” ...


Mavs working toward Blue-White scrimmage

Southside football coach Jeff Williams and his staff have adjusted to a couple of anomalies this month — the fact that school starts much earlier than the regular season. The Mavericks practiced Monday morning in an effort to fine-tune some things heading into the 2019 opener Sept. 6 against Bentonville West. “We put a bunch of things in over the summer, and some of that from spring practice carried over, too,” Williams said. “We feel like we have everybody in the right position and right spot right now. We’re just trying to create some depth, and in this league, you better have some depth or you’re going to be in trouble.” The Mavericks, 6-6 a year ago, have plenty of defensive holdovers from last season. But the offense is a work in progress. Quarterbacks Parker Wehunt and Blaine Stites have an experienced back to hand the ball in Johntarrius Washington. But beyond that, the Mavericks lost their entire receiving corps to graduation. “The receivers, those guys were here for two years, and now they’re gone,” Williams said. “We have to spend more time working on our timing, just throwing and catching, and as an offense as a whole.” Defense is a far different story. The Mavs have eight players who were on the field in their final game of the 2018 season. Senior Jeremiah Van Hook and junior Landen Chaffey are among the key holdovers. “They know what they’re doing; you see them playing fast because it’s their second year in the scheme,” Williams said. “We had eight underclassmen on the field in our last game last year. Defensively, we’re a lot further ahead than we are offensively. (But) that’s usually about everybody in America this time of year.” Williams said the team’s revamped offensive line has some experience coming back, which is always crucial. Junior Marlon Briggs (5-foot-11, 330 pounds) and Alvin Truong (5-10, 250) both played 12 games in 2018. Junior Joshua Waldrep (6-0, 250) will start at guard opposite Troung. Senior Angel Mares (6-0, 215) has been plugged in at right tackle, Williams said. Jayquan Minner (5-11, 241) and Creed Nally (6-1, 280) will alternate at left tackle, offensive line coach Tadd Stewart said. Senior Trey Moore (6-0, 315) will also see time on the offensive line, Stewart said. Everything is leading up to the Mavericks’ Blue-White scrimmage, which is slated for Aug. 16. “It’s a good chance for our student body to get out and get a look at us,” Williams said. “I think it’s neat to go through the lights and do warmups and do some things you need to do. It’s kind of a weird summer, because school’s moved up a week and football has been moved back a week. We’re adjusting to everything.”...


Southside volleyball squad loaded for potential state title run

The Southside Mavericks are used to being the hunted. That may never be more true than with the 2019 team. Less than four weeks removed from their Aug. 27 season opener with Van Buren, the Mavericks know they’ll take everybody’s best shot this season. That target is real. “We’ve talked about that with the girls — a target on your front, a target on your back,” first-year coach Natalie Throneberry said. “That could be at any time with this team this season. We’re trying to pay less attention to what other people are gunning for, and spending more time with our techniques and our fundamentals and making sure we’re all on the same page.” “We really like where we are,” junior Hannah Hogue said. “We’re pretty young coming in; we lost a lot of seniors. But we have a chip on our shoulder from last year, and I think we’re really chasing that.” The Mavs did everything in former coach Steve Haaser’s final season in 2018 except bring home another banner. The team’s loss to Conway in the 6A finals still stings. And, while the Mavericks have key pieces to replace, such as Hannah Holland, Emily Bass and Sarah Tolbert, the team does have giant chunks of the offense back in place. Hogue, hard-hitting Avery Fitzgerald and Aleigha Johnson accounted for 815 of the team’s 1,360 kills in 2018. Johnson led the team with 76 blocks. “I think the target on our backs motivates us,” Fitzgerald said. “It encourages us to work harder. We have to try harder and be louder. I think being a target is good.” “A lot of us played together in junior high and we feel really comfortable with each other,” Hogue said. “I think this preseason, we’ve gotten to know each other even better.” Senior Kelsey Hamilton is among the candidates to replace Bass at libero. “I played all the way around my ninth-grade year, but for every other team I’ve played libero,” Hamilton said. “Basically, I have to remember to stay in the middle and do my job.” Along with Hamilton, Throneberry is counting on seniors Hailey Beadle, Kelsey Wilson and Bailey Vega. Throneberry likes the way the team has meshed. “This is your family; this is your family for the entire year,” Throneberry said. “This group is great; they push each other. They’ve done everything I’ve asked of them and more. They’re a little bit hungry, and I like seeing that.” “We have a really good team this year,” Hamilton said. “We have really good chemistry this year.” The Mavs have a typical tough early season schedule, which includes powerhouses Fayetteville and Greenwood in preparation for the team’s Sept. 5 conference opener against Conway. “We have to put in a lot of hard work, that’s the big thing,” Fitzgerald said. “We have to maintain good work ethic and don’t slump down.”...


Fort Smith hires new athletics director

Michael Beaumont had just finished shaking hands, mugging for pictures and talking up his family when he got to the meat of the order — how to keep Northside and Southside in the same ZIP code. Beaumont was introduced Monday night as Fort Smith’s new athletics director. There are schedules to complete, officials to hire and coaches to meet. And there is the matter of keeping the two high schools in the same league. This spring, the Arkansas Activities Association announced Northside would remain in the 6A-Central for the duration of the 2020-22 athletic seasons, with Southside getting moved back in the 6A-West. “This is a very serious matter,” Beaumont said. “You have a lot to think about with Southside and Northside, two premier athletic programs.” A graduate of Brookland High School, Beaumont built a strong resume that included stints with Houston Nutt at Arkansas and Ole Miss and most recently as the director of operations for the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team. In addition, Beaumont coached at the University of Central Arkansas and, for five years, served as the head baseball coach and assistant football coach at Lincoln. It was here where he developed a kinship with Nutt, who drove in Beaumont’s hiring Monday. “I am very excited to be part of the Fort Smith Schools program, which is so rich in history, pride and tradition,” Beaumont said in a statement. “I know the district has excellent teachers, leaders and coaches. I feel truly humbled and blessed to join the Fort Smith team.” Nutt, in fact, was the one who actually tipped off Beaumoint about the Fort Smith opening. “It’s kind of funny. I was talking to Houston one day about the director of athletics is open in Fort Smith. He (Nutt) knew I was wanting to move into administration, having been at the college level all these years,” Beaumont said. “So I did a little research. A lot of these coaches, we knew them because we’ve recruited a lot of these kids on the basketball side and the football side. A lot of my colleges knew these coaches.” Beaumont picked up the telephone and reached out to the 4-7-9. “We made some calls to see what exactly was going on, Beaumont said. “I thought I would apply and take a shot. I was hoping they would pick me, and I had an interview, and here I am.” Beaumont and his wife, Susan, who are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary this year, will soon be planting roots in Fort Smith, which he revealed already had a family connection. Beaumont’s mom, Connie, and dad, Wayne, were married at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Fort Smith. Beaumont’s dad coached and served as a principal, he said. “I’m excited about this opportunity,” Beaumont said. “Just to be a part of this community, the four junior highs and the two high schools, what an incredible opportunity.”...


Longtime Southside teammates set for Friday’s All-Star experience

Forever and a lifetime. It’s a phrase that won’t hit Hannah Holland or Emily Bass until Sunday. Friday, the longtime Fort Smith teammates will pair up one final time as part of the Arkansas Coaches Association All-Star volleyball game. They’ve been teammates since they were 9. “We were talking about it, how we’ve played together for so many years. I think we’ve played together since we were nine,” Holland said. “I’m pretty excited about it (all-star match), but it’s kind of sad at the same time.” “It’s really fun to be able to play one last time,” Bass said. “Me and Hannah are going to be pretty sad, and it’ll be different playing against her in college.” Holland will continue her volleyball career at UAFS. Bass is headed to Ouachita Baptist. For one night, anyway, it’ll be just about playing volleyball. ?’m really excited,” Bass said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. (But) it’s kind of bitter sweet, too. It’s my last time playing high school ball. But it’s fun, too. I get to meet some kids I ’m going to college with, like Karli (Ferguson) from Conway.” The East All-Star roster includes two players each from Southside, Jonesboro, Valley View and Hoxie. Conway coach Laura Crow is the head coach. “I’ve met her a couple of times,” Bass said. “She seems really nice. My older sister (Haley Gilliam) teaches at Conway.” Because Southside and Northside play in the 6A-Central, they are paired with players from the central and eastern part of the state. The West roster has plenty of local flavor, with Greenwood’s Abby Cagle, Hackett’s Audrie Chaney, Lavaca’s Hope Headley and Paris phenoms Joni Inman and Ryleigh Hardwicke. Greenwood’s Jennifer Golden is coaching the West squad. Her staff also includes Paris’ Jordan Devine and Hackett coach Bridget Freeman. Holland said she expects to play middle blocker in Friday’s game. “I’m really excited,” Holland said. “It’s going to be super competitive. I’m lucky that I had the UAFS camp before this week so that I could get back into playing. I hadn’t played for awhile.” “I really don’t know what to expect,” Bass said. “I think it’s going to be fun, but I have no clue, really. They sent us a schedule, so I know what’s going down.” Volleyball players are to report Thursday at 2 p.m. Then, after the dust settles, Bass will have a little more than a month before reporting to Arkadelphia for OBU’s fall practice. “I move in on Aug. 9,” she said. “I’m really excited. I love all the people there; the girls and coaches are super nice. I think I’m going to fit in really well.”...


Throneberry, Mavericks pacing themselves

For most coaches in 2019, coaching travel ball driven players means adjusting your routine on the fly. It’s not that way for Southside coach Natalie Throneberry, though. “It’s a delicate balance,” she said. “Not every player is the same. We know we have some kids playing in Nationals, which bleeds over to July. If we need to nurse some shoulders or have some down time, we’ll do that. “But these kids are ready to go once we put the (volleyball) nets up.” The Mavericks, who reached the 6A finals a year ago, where they lost to Conway, lost three key players to graduation — Hannah Holland, Emily Bass and Sarah Tolbert. The trio not only contributed to the flow of the game, but were invaluable leaders off the floor as well. But Southside, which begins the 2019 season in earnest with fall practice July 18, has plenty of fire-power coming back, including juniors Avery Fitzgerald, Aleigha Johnson, Hannah Hogue and Hayley Hall. Southside opens the season Aug. 27 against Van Buren. “Our girls, a lot of them are pedal to the metal in travel ball,” she said. “We have camp coming up next week for younger kids in elementary school and junior high. Our kids are helping work it. I’m excited for them. I’m happy to see the transition for them.” Next week will spell the end of morning workouts and afternoon practices. With dead period, a three-week span from June 24-July 8, an inactive span where coaches are not allowed to have contact with athletes. “Once dead period is over we’ll hit the ground running,” Throneberry said. “That senior group was special, but we have a very solid group of junior and seniors coming back.” The Mavericks will have some key sophomore pieces as well. Throneberry is excited to see newcomers Olivia Melton and Toree Tiffee. “Absolutely,” she said. “I’m eager to get them into the mix with the other players. It will be good to have them on our campus.” Southside will host team camp July 30-Aug. 1. The Mavericks will begin their final trek through the 6A-Central beginning Sept. 5 at Conway. The team’s first four scheduled regular season matches are against teams — Van Buren, Fayetteville, Greenwood and Conway — who combined for 93 wins in 2018....