CONWAY — You always play to win today’s competition and try not to look ahead but it would kind of be understandable if the Bryant Lady Hornets were considering the more important challenge to come than the one they faced on Saturday at the Lady Cat Invitational at Conway High School.
Bryant is facing the most important seven days of their 2015 regular season starting this Tuesday with three matches that will determine if they will play beyond the regular season and, to some extent, how difficult their post-season run might be.
The run of matches are all against the other Class 7A members of the Central Conference, starting with Mount St. Mary Academy at Bryant on Tuesday. On Thursday, Oct. 15, they travel to Van Buren before playing at home against Conway on Tuesday, Oct. 20 in what could be a showdown for a share of the league title and the top bid to State.
“We are definitely ready to get ready for Mount,” asserted Lady Hornets coach Beth Solomon. “The girls are excited and Mount’s a pretty good rivalry game. We could definitely use as many people as we can get there to help cheer us on and support the girls. They’re definitely working hard. We need a big win on Tuesday night.”
On Saturday, they Lady Hornets swept pool play by downing Lake Hamilton in straight sets, 25-17, 25-11 then Paragould, 25-17, 25-15 to advance to the Gold bracket of the tournament.
But in bracket play, they started against a familiar foe, the Russellville Lady Cyclones, just four days after enduring a three-set sweep at Russellville in 7A/6A-Central Conference play. After a considerable layoff, the Lady Hornets’ frustration against the Lady Cyclones continued, 24-26, 24-26, to end their day.
“We started pretty strong, really awake considering it was 8 o’clock in the morning,” said Bryant coach Beth Solomon. “I was pretty excited about how awake and ready we were to play when we started at 9.
“I think being off for three-and-a-half hours may have effected us but we played strong against Russellville,” she added. “We probably would’ve liked to have seen somebody different, just because we’ve played Russellville now four times. But the girls played strong. We had a few little letdowns but, all in all, we had a pretty good day.”
Earlier in the season, Bryant had earned a league win and a tournament win (at Russellville, over the Lady Cyclones.
In Saturday’s match, outside hitter Allie Anderson had 14 kills and a solo block. Raven Loveless added four kills and a solo block. Britney Sahlmann contributed two kills to go with her 15 assists and four digs. Kendall Selig, Kaci Squires, Brittney Warner and Riley Hill each had a kill against Russellville.
Squires provided two of Bryant’s service aces. Savannah Shelton had the other. Squires came up with three digs, as did Whitney Brown. Selig, Loveless and Alex Dillard contributed two digs each.
In the win over Paragould, Anderson finished with 12 kills, three aces and a dig. Sahlmann added four kills, 15 assists, and an ace. Loveless and Dillard finished with three kills each. Selig and Hill added two apiece. Warner had the team’s lone dig of the game to go with a block. Dillard also came up with a solo block and McKissock had an ace.
In the win over Lake Hamilton, Anderson finished with 16 kills and a solo block. Sahlmann had 20 assists to go with two aces as she got in all 15 of her serves.
Selig finished with three kills and an ace. Dillard had three kills with Warner and Loveless finished with two each. McKissock contributed two aces while Brown was good on 11 of her 12 serves.