LITTLE ROCK — In a season in which the Bryant Lady Hornets volleyball team has designs on all sorts of special moments, there definitely came one on Thursday night when they traveled to the McCauley Center at Mount St. Mary Academy and returned home with a 25-23, 20-25, 25-19, 25-19 victory.
Not only was it a conference victory but it came against a Class 7A member of the league, making it not only count towards a conference championship but also towards a bid to the Class 7A State Tournament. (League games against 6A opponents don’t.)
“Oh, my goodness, what a great win,” enthused Lady Hornets head coach Beth Solomon. “We really needed this win tonight. It’s a big win, a big 7A win. I’m very, very proud of the way the girls played. Apparently, this is the first time these girls have ever won at Mount. And to do it in four and not let it go to five is an even bigger deal.”
In the junior varsity match, Bryant absorbed its first loss in straight sets.
For the varsity, the Lady Hornets produced 59 kills including 23 for senior Allie Anderson. Sophomore Raven Loveless had 13. Britney Sahlmann added six, Brittney Warner five, Kendall Selig and Alex Dillard four each, Whitney Brown three and Shayla McKissock one.
Dillard had two blocks and Selig one. Sahlmann set for 36 assists.
“We started off a little shaky, back and forth,” Solomon said. “We missed, I think, six serves the first game. So to have the score like it was, even after we missed six serves, we decided, ‘You know what? There’s no reason not to take care of business right now.’
“But the second game, we still missed five or six different serves and came out with the loss,” she noted. “Of course, we definitely decided, after that one, that it was time to buck up and get things done in games three and four.”
The Lady Hornets had an uncharacteristic 12 service errors. They were good on 86.5 percent of their serves. Anderson and Sahlmann each had three aces.
“Whitney Brown had an outstanding night,” Solomon said. “It got to the point in games three and four that there was nothing hitting the ground. If it came in her general vicinity, it was going to be up. She’s our player of the game tonight.”
Brown finished with a whopping 24 digs. Savannah Shelton added 11, McKissock nine, with Kaci Squires and Sahlmann each rooting up eight apiece.
The Lady Hornets improved to 8-2 overall, 4-1 in conference and 1-0 in games against 7A teams. They continue their first run through their 7A league rivals on Tuesday, Sept. 22, when they host the Van Buren Pointerettes.
“We’re going to need all the fan support that we can possibly get,” asserted Solomon. “It’s a big home game. The 7A games that we’re now into are the ones that count for us to go to the 7A State Tournament and our seeding. So, the more fans we can get there to help us out, the better we’ll play I’m sure.”
Bryant followed up with a match at Conway on Thursday, another 7A conference rival.
Before those two games, however, they’ll compete on Saturday in at tournament in Russellville.
“We’re hoping to get a lot out of that,” the coach mentioned. “The serves, like I said — we continuously talk about becoming more consistent as a team and getting rid of those up-and-down moments. For example, one of the things I told the girls tonight, I think that we’ve lost every first point of every set that we’ve played. And tonight, I don’t think was any different. That’s one thing I really want us to work on. It seems like a minor goal but it’s a big one. It’s the way to start a game and gain momentum early.”
In Thursday’s JV game, Shaley Smith and Reagan Blend each had three kills. Riley Hill, Jad’n Nichols and Ashlyn Lee added one apiece. The team was good on 96.9 percent of their serves with seven aces, two each by Lee and Gabbie Bonvillain and one apiece from Kasey Ward, Blend and Reagan Dabbs.
Lee had seven assists and two digs. Blend led with three digs.