Photos by Rick Nation
Though, obviously, every set of a volleyball game is vital, the second one seems even more so. If you’ve won the first one, winning game two puts you in position to sweep the match. After all, it means you only have to win one of the last three to carry the day. If you falter in the first, winning the second set turns the best-of-five match into a best-of-3, a brand new match. You’re back on equal footing with your opponent and, chances are, you’ve wrested away the momentum.
The latter scenario was the Bryant Lady Hornets’ situation on Thursday when they hosted the Siloam Springs Lady Panthers at the Hornets’ Nest. They fell in game one 18-25, setting up an intense scramble in game two. Neither team could claim the set (win by 2) through 25 and the game extended into the 30’s before the Lady Panthers claimed a hard-earned 33-31 win, taking the advantage in the match.
Gamely, the Lady Hornets rallied in the third set, winning 25-21, but still trailed in the match. Game four was tight as well but Bryant came up on the short end of a 22-25 decision as Siloam won the 7A/6A-Central match 3-1.
It was another in a series of tough losses for Bryant, which wrapped up the first half of the home-and-home conference schedule. The Lady Hornets will host Benton in a non-conference rivalry match on Monday, Sept. 29 then return to league action on Tuesday when Greenwood visits. The Lady Bulldogs narrowly prevailed over the Lady Hornets in the league opener on Sept. 4.
The first run through the conference has verified what was, no doubt, suspected. There are no cupcakes in the Central Conference. The Lady Hornets spent the last two seasons in the South where the best teams are really, really good but there are usually some breathers along the way.
In Thursday’s match, the Lady Hornets got 18 kills from junior Allie Anderson. Mercedes Dillard added nine with Britney Sahlmann and Kendall Selig added seven each. Sahlmann came up with 35 assists and was good on all 17 of her serves.
Whitney Brown got all 15 serves in and Nikki Clay was good on 13 of 13. Dillard got in 14 of 15 and had one of two aces for Bryant. Abby Staton, who was 10 for 10, had the other.
The Lady Hornets had nine solo blocks including two each from Anderson, Rylee Phillips and Alex Dillard.
The serve-receive and digs were improved over Tuesday’s match at Conway. Brown was 45 of 52 on serve-receive with 38 digs. Sahlmann had 27 digs.
“It was a great match to coach in because each team gave all they had,” said Bryant coach Lawrence Jefferson. “Whitney Brown, Abby Staton, and Nikki Clay played very well on the back row and dug up a lot of hits. Allie Anderson had a good night of hitting. SIloam Springs just seemed to find the open spot more often than us.”
The Lady Panthers also won the junior varsity match, 25-17, 25-18.