Coming off a strong showing at the Little Rock Spikefest in which they won three and tied one of five matches, the Bryant Lady Hornets figured to be primed to take on the rival Benton Lady Panthers in a Salt Bowl week kickoff match Monday night.
And things started out great as the Lady Hornets edged Benton, 25-23, in the first set. Benton surged to win the second set 25-21 then rolled in the third set, 25-12. The fourth was hotly contested. It was tied 12 times. Bryant led 21-20 only to have Benton close it out for the set and match, 25-23.
In a junior varsity match, the Lady Hornets prevailed, 25-18, 25-27, 15-11.
“The JV played well tonight,” said Bryant coach Beth Solomon. “I was proud of their effort and their win. They are really starting to mesh together and they put forth a fighting effort tonight.
“I wish I could say the same for our varsity group,” she added. “Unfortunately we couldn’t pull it together tonight. We had a strong performance in set one and seemed to go downhill big time after that. It was almost like we just gave up then tried to come back in set four but just couldn’t pull it out.
“We will get to the bottom of it and get ‘us’ back for our conference opener on Thursday versus Northside,” the coach concluded.
The Lady Hornets open play in the 7A-Central Conference at home against the Fort Smith team, a new member of the league.
Against Benton, the Lady Hornets recorded 31 kills, led by freshman Lylah Washington with 10. Sarah Clemmons had seven and Raven Loveless five. Alex Dillard finished with four and Brittney Warner three. Clemmons and Warner each had two solo blocks.
Ashlyn Lee led with 20 assists. Reagan Dabbs had two. Kyla Baker led the team with five digs. Riley Hill added four. Lee and Warner had two each.
The Lady Hornets were 74 of 81 at the service line with 19 aces. Baker had four of those. Dabbs, Hill, Lee and Reagan Blend had three each, Loveless two and Clemmons one. Lee was good on all 20 of her serves with Hill getting in all 18 and Dabbs each of her 12. Baker was 9 for 9.
In the JV game, Faith Stone and Imanii Jones led with five kills each. Aly Bowers and Beatriz Hernandez came through with four apiece. Kristin Boyle added two kills and Macey Loudon had one.
Stone also had four solo blocks, Boyle two.
The team only had five errors in 67 serves with eight aces, led by Loudon with three. Cassie Ray and Madi Draper came through with two each and Jones added one. Lindsey Maxwell, who had 15 assists, got in all 10 of her serves and Louden was 11 for 12. Draper got in all nine of her serves and Emily Hall was 8 for 8.
Louden and Ray led the team with three digs apiece. Draper had two.
LITTLE ROCK SPIKEFEST
The Lady Hornets swept their pool at Little Rock Christian then won a match in bracket play against Greenbrier before losing to Cabot.
Bryant opened with a tie against Batesville, winning 25-17 in the first set before the Lady Pioneers prevailed in the second, 26-24. The Lady Hornets followed up by defeating Magnolia, 25-14, 25-11, and Central Arkansas Christian, 25-17, 25-16. Against Greenbrier, they prevailed 26-24, 25-16. The loss to Cabot was close 20-25, 24-26.
“We had an overall great day,” Solomon said. “We had to rearrange our line up a bit since we were missing one of our power middles, Brittney Warner, due to illness. Riley Hill, who usually plays libero for us, stepped up and played middle. There aren’t many teams that can use their libero as a middle hitter when they get in a crunch but we can and that says a lot about our team.
“We had a great serving day as well,” she added. “Our girls have gotten very good at spot serving and are continuing to push for aces. We also got to see Cabot, which is great for us since that is a conference team this year.”
The Lady Hornets host Cabot in a conference match on Sept. 15.
Statistically for the day, the Lady Hornets had 105 kills, 32 aces, 33 blocks and 20 digs. They were good on 95 percent of their serves with only 13 errors.
Loveless had 31 kills, Clemmons 25 and Washington 24. Dillard pitched in with nine, Lee eight and Hill seven.
Lee finished with 77 assists while Clemmons came through with 18 blocks. Loveless had eight, Hill six, Dillard and Washington five each.
Blend and Clemmons each had eight aces on the day. Lee finished with five, Baker and Hill four apiece and Dabbs three.