BELMONT For the first time in school history, the Belmont Lady Cardinals will play in the MHSAA Class I volleyball semifinals.

Belmont beat Choctaw County 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-4) on Tuesday night in the second round of the playoffs. Belmont (23-8) advances to the semifinals on Thursday at Mississippi State and will face Our Lady Academy at noon.

“This was huge and we are just ecstatic,” Belmont coach Stephanie Cleveland said. “We wanted to do something special and we wanted to set history. I’ve had our two seniors since they were in eighth grade, and this has been our dream ever since.”

One of those seniors, Maggie Ledbetter, played phenomenal. She finished with 13 aces and 11 kills, setting the tone early in the first set.

After going down 2-0 in the first set, Ledbetter scored Belmont’s first point with a kill, then served five aces around a Kathryn Greene kill to take a 7-2 lead. Choctaw County never got back within three points, and Belmont took a 1-0 lead with the 25-14 set win.

Ledbetter finished with 7 aces and 5 kills in the set, while Greene was dominant at the net with 9 kills.

“She was focused and we had a game plan and we wanted her to hit the ball at the two and three spots because I felt like those were their weak spots,” Cleveland said. “She has a really nasty serve. They have a lot of top spin and it causes problems in getting to the ball.”

Choctaw County took a 4-3 lead in the second set, but after a service error, Belmont took a 13-4 lead riding nine- straight points with Ledbetter serving. Belmont won the set 25-17, then cruised in the third set.

With Ledbetter once again serving, Belmont won 16-straight points to jump out to a 19-1 lead, and then finished the Lady Chargers off, 25-4.

“I was just getting as close as I could to the holes with my serves,” Ledbetter said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do here lately. We played together really well.

“We were trying to go 25-1 there at the end, but we are happy with what we got.”

Twitter: @DLMiddleton8

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